Skip to main content

BOOK OF DAYS

USA, 1989 (MIFF 1990)

Director: Meredith Monk

MEREDITH MONK'S post-modern filmic fresco is a rich and haunting reinvention of medieval life that never loses its contemporary perspective.

The demolition of an ancient stone building in the here and now suddenly blasts us back to a then and there where long-robed men and women glide through a monochrome Middle Ages marketplace. Although the black and white cinematography distances viewers from the re-enacted past, the present constantly intrudes.

An off-screen interviewer questions representative characters including a farmwoman, a storyteller and - in a witty performance by the filmmaker herself - a silent madwoman whose facial gestures imply she knows much more than she can say.

More resonance is gained when we are introduced to a Jewish family, marked with yellow circles on their black cloaks. These characters are more than stock types and come across as definite individuals, especially the middle daughter who has strange dreams and visions that only we can recognise. The mysterious shapes she draws on walls and in the sand are clearly images of a suitcase, an aeroplane, a car...

Our current epoch is further invoked when a man and woman in matching plaid and Ray-Bans host a performance show in the medieval square. But again, those different, "darker" Ages take over when the village is attacked by plague. The Christians blame the Jews and the medieval world seems to go up in an apocalypse of hatred and disease that presages our own troubled century.

This time-bending allegory, with its intriguing mix of directness and delicacy, is also distinguished by a subtle, chanting score by Ms Monk and Jerry Pantzer's dazzling camerawork. - (PKe)

See also...

Sun, Moon and Feather

Three sisters, whose father was an American Indian, who lived their lives in down town New York and converted to Judaism are sure to present their life stories with an air of theatricality. And that ... More »

A Spy in the House that Ruth Built

A female baseball fan examines her obsession with the game, along psycho-sexual lines. Vanalyne Green appropriates the all-male arena of pro baseball to create an hilarious visual essay about family ... More »

I WENT TO THE DANCE

Several films have been made on , the infectious Cajun and Zydeco music of South West Louisiana (including Spend It All, Hot Pepper and Dry Wood by Les Blank), but until now, none has tackled the ... More »

A Border Crossing

The odyssey of an incidental tourist on the way to becoming another accidental tourist. Concisely and freshly combines elements of the road movie, the home movie, the newsreel and the travelogue. ... More »

Holding Margie's Hand

Holding Margie's Hand is an intimate, comic look at the expectations and disappointments of friendship. What really goes on when two girls hang out? La La drops in unexpectedly on her friend, Margie ... More »

Drowning

VIP death on a highway — corporate world gone mad. Real estate developer drowns on the Chicago Skyway. The powerful and controversial Charles Smith was found dead today in the back seat of his ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director