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“Goes much further than the CREMASTER series.
A movie about human life in its most elemental and sometimes violent states.”

– Randy Kennedy,
The New York Times

 

RIVER OF FUNDAMENT

Written and directed by Matthew Barney
Music composed and directed by Jonathan Bepler
Director of photography Peter Strietmann • Production design Matthew D. Ryle
Edited by Katharine McQuerrey • Producer Mike Bellon

US • 2014 • 319 mins • DCP • 1:89 • 7.1 • NR • English

 
       
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Cast includes: David Amram, Matthew Barney, Chief Dave Beautiful Bald Eagle, Ellen Burstyn, Dick Cavett, Madyn G. Coakley, Paul Giamatti, Milford Graves, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Deborah Harry, Joan La Barbara, Fran Lebowitz, John Buffalo Mailer, Jonas Mekas, Aimee Mullins, Stephen Payne, Eugene Perry, Herbert Perry, Salman Rushdie, Elaine Stritch, James Toback, Lawrence Weiner

Set across the American landscape, the film RIVER OF FUNDAMENT is an epic story of regeneration and rebirth. Loosely based on the 1983 Norman Mailer novel Ancient Evenings, with an ancient Egyptian protagonist who sought reincarnation three times in the hope of achieving immortality, RIVER OF FUNDAMENT borrows its structure from Mailer’s text, corresponding to the seven stages the Egyptian soul undergoes in its journey toward new life. Conceived as a nontraditional opera written in collaboration with longtime collaborator Jonathan Bepler, the film combines documentary footage of three live acts performed outdoors in Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York with live-action cinema largely set in a careful recreation of Mailer’s Brooklyn brownstone apartment, where the late author’s wake is underway.

Imagined as a lavish dinner party attended by New York’s cultural literati, the wake takes place inside the Mailer apartment as it is ferried down the river. Intercut with scenes from the outdoor live acts, the story of Norman’s three-time journey along the river of fundament parallels that of the automobile, and is equally populated by the incestuous characters belonging to the myth of Osiris. As the story of Norman’s lives is recounted to him by an elder pharaoh, Norman’s widow and wives contemplate the soul’s journey as a series of recitatives, quoting passages from Ancient Evenings, as well as from American authors Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William S. Burroughs.

 
       
    Act 1: 1:55 Act 2: 1:48 Act 3: 1:36
Plus two 20 min Intermissions
 
       
   

“The web of allusions and cultural associations Mr. Barney weaves is, on a certain level, staggering, and sometimes moving. “River of Fundament” is often a commanding, engaging and certainly challenging experience.”
– Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“Too grand, too ambitious, contains moments far too beautiful and grotesque to reckon with adequately in a few hundred or thousand words. One would almost need a book as loquacious as the 700-page Ancient Evenings to respond appropriately.”
– M. H. Miller, New York Observer

“The book, set at a time when Egyptians were making great advances in metal working, casting and the development of alloys, gave [Barney] a way to begin thinking about materials and the history of sculpture in ways he hadn’t previously — in effect, to think about a project in which sculpture would drive filmmaking more than it had in the past.”
– Randy Kennedy, New York Times

“Among contemporary artists, probably only Jeff Koons competes with Barney in terms of scale and a staggering attention to craft and detail.”
– Kirk Silsbee, LAdowntownNews.com

“A brilliantly rendered, giddily self-referential satire
of contemporary American culture.”

– Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

“Viewers … will find themselves mesmerized.”
– Simon Abrams, Village Voice

“Confidently, elegantly paced.
There is authentic moviemaking magic in the funky sumptuousness of the antiquated industrial architecture. Barney makes a brilliant theatrical entrance near the beginning … he is a striking presence. The deeper he moves into the black magic of movie-making, the brighter his perfervid imaginings become.
Easy to enjoy.”

– Jed Perl, The New Republic

 
   

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    More information on MATTHEW BARNEY at artsy.net  
       
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