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.