GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9 (DVD) Image

The expression “experimental cinema” perfectly describes the concept of outside-the-box filmmaking – after all, some experiments work magnificently while the majority tend to fizzle and flop. Robert Persons’ 72-minute experimental film production, sadly, falls squarely and firmly into the latter category.

Persons focuses his film on Georgia and attempts to provide a cinematic tone poem on the state’s uneasy balance of bucolic natural beauty and dreary urban modernity. Unfortunately, Persons scripted a hippy-dippy narration that is droned out by William Davidson. A typical passage goes like this: “There was a war here, a hundred years before this generation was born. A war happened here. We’re lost without a map, but well misplaced. Bring us doubt upon doubt, bless us, and break us with mystery upon mystery. The Lord loves a broken spirit. Pray that we are well broken.” Yeah, whatever.

Adding to the narcotizing audio effect is the film’s cinematography: a series of artsy images that are edited in a manner that gives the impression of a screensaver on steroids. The film is conspicuously lacking in people, except for a few archival photographs. Whether Persons desires a depopulated Georgia or whether he prefers filming inanimate objects is not clear.

The filmmaker reportedly spent 11 years putting this film together – and for the unlucky viewer, sitting through this numbing and pointless work can seem like an 11-year stretch.

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  1. I think you dismiss the film a little too easily. Yes, it’s experimental. Yes, it’s at times droning and redundant. But it can raise some deep thoughts if you allow it to (despite its own stubborn simplicity).

  2. TC says:

    I hear that General Orders No. 10 will totally rock, though.

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