The Epic of Gilgamesh Image

The Epic of Gilgamesh

By Sumner Forbes | March 8, 2024

It’s a brave new world. Last year, the entertainment world here in the States was consumed by the Writers Guild strike, which was followed soon after by the SAG-AFTRA strike. A substantial portion of their fears was artificially intelligent technology and what it could potentially mean for the moving image going forward. No one has a crystal ball, but everyone agrees that we’re in uncharted territory. Writer-director Zeb Haradon’s A.I.-generated The Epic of Gilgamesh points the way to what the possibilities look like now, even as technology is developing daily.

Even if one is unfamiliar with the essentials of the plot — the friendship between the titular king and Enkidu or the battle against Humbaba — one has heard the story before. The ancient Mesopotamian tale has provided a narrative structure for sundry quests for millennia. But for the few who are unfamiliar, King Gilgamesh ventures forth to find the secret of eternal life. Along the way, he encounters all manner of friends, foes, and mythological creatures.


“…King Gilgamesh ventures forth to find the secret of eternal life.”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But maybe we should reinvent ways to tell an ancient tale by embracing the controversial technology everyone is so scared of. Enter Haradon’s completely bananas The Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s the familiar Gilgamesh legend utilizing an amalgamation of all the different aesthetics that have been used to tell the tale in the past. It’s all brought to you by A.I. generated models. Any viewer familiar with the absurdism inherent in Canadian auteur Guy Maddin’s work will be somewhat prepared to handle what the filmmaker’s up to. The movie brings us through varying sequences that bear little visual connection with earlier ones, while frequent intertitles help orient the audience within the narrative.

It’s a bold endeavor, but it’s one the world needs. Most audiences will never see a flick go through the aesthetics of early silent motion pictures, German Expressionism, primitive CGI, and arthouse fare with complete abandon. It’s chaos, but it’s also a heck of a ride. Whatever one thinks, though, it’s a deceptively important film because of what it portends for content creation. Is A.I. ready at this point in time to take over all of our favorite streamers and cineplexes? Definitely not, but for a field in its relative infancy, it’s impressive (or alarming, depending upon perspective) to see what’s currently possible.

The movie is a lot to take in and will alienate many due to the assault of contradictory content. But no matter one’s take on it, The Epic of Gilgamesh is sure to inspire debate. And isn’t that ultimately what we want as fans? Sure, we could see a traditional sword and sandal adaptation of the Gilgamesh tale, but where’s the fun in that? With a cursory fix of some minor issues like typos and potentially jettisoning the separate reel structure, this could become a valuable document of the current state of burgeoning technology. The jury is still out on whether the addition of A.I. will end up being a positive or a negative, but I know one thing for sure: you won’t forget this anytime soon.

The Epic of Gilgamesh (2024)

Directed and Written: Zeb Haradon

Starring: Zeb Haradon, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Epic of Gilgamesh Image

"…you won’t forget this anytime soon."

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