Skip to content

E. Elias Merhige

Begotten * E. Elias Merhige (1990)

So you thought “Eraserhead” is weird? Try “Begotten”! Usually telling the story of a film makes a massive “spoiler”, but in this case it actually helps to know what you are looking at. “Begotten” seems to tell a story of creation. In the first scene you see a man cutting himself up: God. As he dies, a young woman appears who is mother earth. Mother earth impregnates herself with God’s semen. I do not recall seeing her having a child, but the character we follow mostly is the ‘son of earth’. ‘Son of earth’ is in a very bad state from the start, but when he is discovered by a group of faceless nomads his fate is even worse. The nomads kill ‘son of earth’, have a ball with mother earth, bury them (or just ‘son of earth’?) and flowers start to bloom on the surface of the earth.
Right, having given you the story, let me tell you a bit about the film. It looks like footage of a century old, granular, in extremely high-contrast black and white. Most of the time I had a hard time trying to find out what I was looking at. Perhaps it is for the better that the film is not in high definition, since the film is extremely gory. Blood, guts, smashed-in heads, rapings; creation certainly was not a lovely event in the eyes of Merhige.
So you get it, a difficult film for a select audience. Personally I thought it was interesting in a way, but it is for the better that it only lasts for 78 minutes. Also I was glad that I looked up the story while watching, otherwise it would just have been a sequence of shocking scenes.

Suspect Zero * E. Elias Merhige (2004)

Well, another serial killer thriller with the usual serial killer story in which the killer not only uses symbolism / psychology, but also follows the man who used to hunt him. Fortunately, “Suspect Zero” has a nice, grim atmosphere and some interesting camera experimentations and this surely lifts the film somewhat. The obligatory surprise in the story is actually not that bad either.
Thomas Mackelway is transferred to some small town, soon followed by his ex partner (both privat and professionally) Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss) when he runs into familiar patterns in killings in his new district. The other person we follow is played by Ben Kingsley. Like I said, the story is not very original, but executed alright, so “Suspect Zero” might be one more serial killer film to watch.

Shadow Of The Vampire * E. Elias Merhige (2000)

A film about a film? Why not. Merhige made a film about the shooting of the classic vampire film “Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens” (1922). John Malkovich plays director Murnau in his aim to make film more interesting than theatre. Murnau goes to extreme ends to make his film, from using stages to travelling long distances to shoot on location. Murnau wanted to turn Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” to film, but Stoker’s widow did not grand him the rights, so he created a ‘based-on story’ with Count Orlok instead of Dracula. Funny is the way of shooting the old film. The cameras have to be set to motion by hand and Murnau continuously talks to the actors (the cameras did not register sound anyway). The extra twist to the modern version is that Count Orlok is not actually played by an actor, but is an actual vampire that Murnau found. the result is an amusing film and a peek into the history of filmmaking.