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...

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 »

LIGHTNING OVER BRADDOCK: A RUSTBOWL FANTASY

... ... This first feature from Tony Buba, Pennsylvania's filmic poet laureate, is a delightful, unconventional, autobiographical tour de force. ... ... ... Called 'the Faulkner of Allegheny County ... More »

Just Hold Still

Essentially a compilation work made up of numerous short pieces, described by Cohen as: Where Documentary Collides. Music Video As Independent Film. Birds As Punctuation ... The project compiles ... More »

Back to Neverland

Well known US comedian/actor Robin Williams is turned into an animated character who takes us on a tour Back To Neverland. Classic characters Peter Pan and Tinkerbell feature in this Walt Disney ... More »

The Deadman

A dead man lies naked, sprawled across a bed. From somewhere there's the oppressive drone of a buzzing fly. A nearly naked woman flees the scene. Peggy Ahwesh's and Keith Sanborn's take on Georges ... More »

A New Year

Benning's dazzling first work began as a bedroom exper­iment with the PXL 2000. A pastiche of image and sound fast becomes a lucid commentary on adolescent isola­tion in a poor Milwaukee ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director