BEGOTTEN (1990) – The Dungeon Review!

Begotten is a film I suspect elicits strong feelings from people of either love or hate. Begotten is filmed in black and white and features a barrage of violent and unsettling images. The film has no dialog, very little music and most of the sound filling the air is that of insects and grunting. It has a grainy ancient look that I found most alluring. I don’t profess to understand every aspect of Begotten by any means. It is a strange, trippy and violent journey full of Christian and Pagan symbolism that I believe is really left open to interpretation. The credits state the three key characters are God killing himself, Mother Earth and Son of Earth (Flesh on Bone); there is no disputing the religious imagery included but I can not say I would have discerned that on my own. Begotten is not going to appeal to a good chunk of the population but personally I found the film visually stimulating, challenging and utterly mesmerizing.

Language bearers, photographers, diary makers
You with your memory are dead, frozen
Lost in a present that never stops passing
Here lives the incantation of matter
A language forever.

Like a flame burning away the darkness
Life is flesh on bone convulsing above the ground.

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This is God killing himself. More specifically, this is God disemboweling himself.

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His blood and guts pour out profusely and gather at his feet.

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From his gory matter emerges Mother Earth. Mother Earth arouses the corpse of God and impregnates herself.

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Pregnant Mother Earth gives birth in a dead and barren land.

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Mother Earth gives birth to a full grown man. Son of Earth (Flesh on bone). Mother Earth leaves her full grown twitching and convulsing son to fend for himself.

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An ominous sky moves overhead.

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Faceless wanderers appear.

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The faceless people tie a rope around the man and proceed to move the Son of Earth who appears to be vomiting up his insides.

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I don’t think they have the Son of Earth’s best interest in mind.

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Nope. The faceless wanderers most definitely do not have the Son of Earth’s best interest in mind.

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Mother Earth comes back for her son.

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More faceless people appear.

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A lot of fecking crazy shit happens and some of it is violent and nasty.

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When all is said and done death brings life and the barren land becomes lush with growth.

*Fun Fact: E. Elias Merhige went on to direct Shadow of the Vampire and Suspect Zero.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: E. Elias Merhige

Starring: Brian Salzberg, Donna Dempsey, Stephen Charles Barry, James Gandia, Daniel Harkins, Michael Phillips, Erik Slavin, Arthur Streeter, Adolfo Vargas, Garfield White

18 Responses to “BEGOTTEN (1990) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. WTF is this thing????? Oh my….

  2. I love how you find films that are offbeat and not always widely known. I’ve not seen this movie,but will try to track it down since I did enjoy Shadow of the Vampire and Suspect Zero. Every so often,I do like to watch films that are different,and based on your review and the photos,this one falls into the “weird ass shit” category of filmmaking! Quite awesome review,Goregirl!

    • Shadow of the Vampire is one of my faves from the last several years. Willem Defoe was an awesome Max Schreck! Begotten is the gem of my friend’s collection which she claims cost her $80!! Apparently it is a very difficult dvd to find. It is definitely some weird ass shit!

  3. This movie was so wild. I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out my review of it but here is a link to it: http://antifilmschoolsite.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/begotten-1990/

    I like you approach to the review and the fact that you infused some humor into it. Awesome stuff as always, Goregirl!!

    • Your review is great!

      To be honest I wasn’t sure what to say about this one…hence the pictures. It is so wonderfully strange and distrurbing and crazy. My friend owns the dvd and was nice enough to send me these pics.

      • Thanks, Goregirl! Your friend is super lucky to own the DVD. It is very hard to get and even though I’m kind of iffy on the movie, I’d like to own it just because it is so fucking crazy. I’ve heard some rumors that it may come to Criterion Blu-ray, which would be very cool but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. How the hell did Merhige go from this to the far more conventional Shadow of the Vampire???

  5. I also like this, and yet I have to admit that I don’t understand all of it. It’s fun to try though, ok, maybe fun isn’t the right word!

    • haha- yeah fun doesn’t quite fit…but I get what you mean. I watched this with a bunch of people at a friend’s house and there was a long and drunken discussion afterwards!

  6. I saw that via VHS video store called I Love Video. Wow, amazing! I still have images of the disembowelment.

    • That opening scene stays with you…crazy gory and strangely artful. I had no idea how to give this one a proper review!

  7. […] Begotten is filmed in black and white and features a barrage of violent and unsettling images. The film has no dialog, very little music and most of the sound filling the air is those of nature and grunting. It has a grainy ancient look that I found most alluring. I don’t profess to understand every aspect of Begotten by any means. It is a strange, trippy and violent journey full of Christian and Pagan symbolism that I believe is really left open to interpretation. The three key characters are God killing himself, Mother Earth and Son of Earth (Flesh on Bone); there is no disputing the religious imagery. Begotten opens with a particularly nasty snippet of God disemboweling himself. Mother Earth emerges from God’s gory remains and arouses his corpse to impregnate herself. Begotten is visually stimulating, challenging and utterly mesmerizing. To read the full review click here. […]

  8. LOVE this film. I saw it in a theater in NYC when it got a limited release and it was the first time I had really bad nightmares from a film experience. I only touched on it here:

    http://fanboydestroy.com/2012/02/06/random-films-of-the-week-psychological-edition-part-1/

    …as it’s a tough film to review in a long form (your pictorial works excellently, by the way – this is a perfect “you just NEED to see it!” film)…

    g.

    • goregirl Says:

      Begotten would have been something else on a big screen!

      Great lineup of films there sir…just about every one of those is on my top 100 favourite list. Possession is one in particular I hyped up every chance I get. That thing is a seriously underappreciated gem!

      • Thank you. TCM (Turner Classic Movies) here has run a double feature of Repulsion and Possession a few times very early Saturday morning (2am) , so I get to get freaked out by Repulsion (it still rattles me every time I see it) and gaze in awe at the pure craziness of Possession as it goes from genre to genre and throws my brain into loops each time.

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