Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beyond the Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos, 2010)

Psychotronic, when applied to movies, loosely means quirky and obscure  (thank you, Wikipedia)  Quirky and obscure pretty much describe all my favorite films.

Last night, or rather, early this morning, my film fan friends and I saw Beyond the Black Rainbow at one of the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah's monthly Friday night midnight shows (I am sad to say it was the first time I had ever been to one, hopefully it won't be the last!).

Beyond the Black Rainbow is a masterpiece of quirkiness.  Writer and director  Panos Cosmatos created the most viusally beguiling cinematic sensual experience since Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void.   The synthesized soundtrack, reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream, propels the viewer into a world of glaring fluorescent lights where objects  melt into and out of focus under the red, orange, blue or white lights.  Cosmatos deliberately defocuses objects, uses extreme closeups and unusual camera angles to disorient the viewer.  Seeing on the big screen, I often experienced vertigo in my seat.

Beyond the Black Rainbow takes place in Ronald Reagan's America of 1983. The Reagan presidency was a turning point for America's mental well being as his policies and reforms fomented a national paranoia and greed.

Cosmatos capitalizes on this imbalance by remaking Eden and the Fall from Grace this time built on the empty promises a New-Age spiritualism in a world that eschews any worship other than the self.  Taking place deep in the bowels of the Arboria Institute, that promises clients can find, among its  award winning gardens and energy "sculpting" sessions,  a newer and be better self.  There, the serpent-like Dr. Barry Nile attempts to seduce the mute Elena, the film's version of Eve.

Beyond the Black Rainbow harks backs to the refrain from the Joni Mitchell song, Woodstock, "We are stardust/We are golden/And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden."  It truly is a garden worth visiting and revisiting.

No comments: