By Jason Hoffman
Source: The Third Eye
Din of Celestial Birds (2006) A film by E. Elias Merhige. Black and white, sound, 16mm, 14 mins.
American filmmaker E. Elias Merhige’s experimental film Din of Celestial Birds (2006) is the second part of an as yet unfinished trilogy of films, the first part being his bold and visionary debut feature Begotten. Most people coming to Din of Celestial Birds will have watched Begotten and are presumably expecting more of the gruesome and haunting imagery that distinguished the style of that feature, however as the movie begins, we are reassured to “Not be afraid … Be comforted … Remember … Our origin…”.
“A transcendental meditation on creation and consciousness”
I came away from the film thinking of it as Begotten enacted on a microscopic scale: a depiction of the divine mystery of creation through an exploration of processes prior to it, but where Begotten did so as a metaphorical psychodrama, Din of Celestial Birds does this as if a nature documentary of life, in a style reminiscent of Man Ray and other Surrealists.
The opening credits actually attribute the film to Q6, a collective consisting of a visual philosopher (whatever that is), a computational visual neuroscientist, a multi-media performance artist, a composer, and a sculptor; all of whom Merhige collected around him to produce the movie in a hands-on fashion employing techniques used by the work of cinema pioneers like the Lumiere brothers, Fritz Lang, and Jean Cocteau, in addition to software and technology created specifically for the film.
Though Din of Celestial Birds arguably ploughs the same furrow as its conceptual predecessor, the film is nevertheless testament to a unique artistic vision, exploring representations of the fringes of consciousness by challenging the limits of cinema.