Decasia: The State of Decay

by Gabriel Shapiro

TDir. Bill Morrison

This is what a great avant-garde film should look like. In his tripped-out masterpiece “Decasia,” Bill Morrison has provided a textbook for filmmakers just as much as he has provided the viewer with a fantastic film.

The bizarre, beautiful, seemingly random imagery, along with an overwhelming score, comb-ine to form a total experience – something encapsulated and complete within itself, offering little in the way of external reference or mental handles for ease of integration. This is designed to exist only within its own experiential boundaries. Trying to make it fit into some order might cause one’s head to explode.

There are parallels with Godfrey Reggio’s “Qatsi” trilogy, one of which, “Naqoyqatsi,” Morrison worked on as an editor. But the degree of abstractness is far higher here, and the number of images that have no literal meaning make this a very different and much more interesting experience. And “experience” is the only way to talk about this thing of Morrison’s. To simply call it a movie is to fail at any meaningful description.

In a related event, Michael Gordon, the composer of the “Decasia” soundtrack, will be appearing at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis on Saturday, in a world-premiere live performance of “Light is Calling,” with films by Morrison. That event is presented by the Walker Art Center.

“Decasia” has already received great critical acclaim and will likely be a favorite of this year’s festival.