A Post-Katrina Apocalypse: Glory at Sea
Glory at Sea is an acclaimed narrative short, which has garnered ten film festival awards this year, including at The Boston Independent Film Festival, The CineVegas International Film Festival, The New Orleans Film Festival, The Woodstock Film Festival and The SXSW Film Festival. The 26-minute short film (I use the designation “short film” advisedly) follows a rather unkempt and unruly fleet of heartbroken refugees through the midst of the human devastation in post-Katrina New Orleans. This one and a half year long collaborative project by Benh Zeitlin (director) and members of the Court 13 film collective has brought forth a narrative film that reveals a rare mutually interactive blend of contemporary dance/movement, cinematography that is richly packed with a grandly sweeping panorama of visual detail, and brilliantly subtle interpersonal gestures by the Court 13 ensemble group of performers.
The underlying music score is an integral component of this film’s mythic narrative, which surges from the depths of epic senseless human tragedy to a doggedly determined communal passion to achieve a transmuting sense of resurrection and deliverance from the catastrophic devastation. Glory at Sea boldly confronts a monumental tragedy that vividly displays the fact of our human mortality, as well as the inevitable loss of our dreams for the future (the ghosts of loved ones, banished to live underwater for eternity). The raggedy, raucous New Orleans characters in Glory at Sea boldly turn away from their overwhelming of feelings of vulnerability, courageously responding instead with a communal bond to a renewed and feverish commitment to love and hope.
The passionate call for hope and a common cause is expressed by the film’s ensemble through an emotionally inspiring synthesis of a socially important narrative, the performers’ sense of movement that conveys through even the most subtle interpersonal gestures their deep commitment to mutually shared social needs and responsibilities, and fascinating cinematography with an acute attention to visual detail. When a pinch of insanity and an ongoing tone of understated comical irony are added to all of this, you end up with an experience that is a musically visual delight. In this way, as the film progresses it takes on a lyrical quality. An old phrase describes beautiful and appealing speech as “Music to My Ears.” Well, Glory at Sea ended up “Dancing Behind My Eyelids.” The twenty-five minutes spent deeply engrossed in this narrative was timeless. Hence an appreciation for Michael Tulley’s comments about Glory at Sea in Hammer To Nail:
“Every once in a rare, long while, a film appears with such a sweeping gust of rejuvenation that it has the power to restore not only one’s faith in cinema but in humanity as a whole. These miracles-some minor, some major-are truly blessed creations. They exist on a timeless plane, feeling both brand new and classic at the very same time. They are worlds unto themselves, borne out of a passionate vision, torn from the spiritual recesses of an individual’s soul and transferred miraculously onto the big screen. Benh Zeitlin’s Glory at Sea is one of these miracles. If ever a short film deserved to be written about as a feature, Glory at Sea is it. Which is what makes Zeitlin’s epic spectacle even more stunning. By the time the film’s closing credits appear-after just twenty-five minutes-it feels like one has been taken on a deeply lasting feature-length journey.”
Finally, a number of filmmakers from the Court 13 film collective, the team behind Glory At Sea, worked on Barack Obama’s campaign for months. For the final weeks of the presidential campaign, President-elect Barack Obama adopted the poignant social message of Glory at Sea’s inspirational music score. A music video of the score used on the Obama campaign, “Elysian Fields,” by Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer, is presented below. In addition, the full version of Glory at Sea is provided for you.
A Post-Katrina Apocalypse: Glory at Sea
Barack Obama Campaign Music: Glory at Sea/Elysian Fields
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