Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods (2010)

Grant Morrison is a man whose head is exploding with so many ideas that it seems he just doesn't have enough time to commit all of them to paper. Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods is a film trying to document the mind that can barely contain all those ideas. In an effort for the film to try and keep up with the mind, this is one of the more faster-paced documentaries you're likely to run across. Sound byte after sound byte is rapidly thrown at you, either by one of the many different comic book creators who were interviewed for this film, or from one of the numerous conversations with the man himself. There is a barrage of information hurled at you in almost non-stop fashion.

Morrison, possibly the most acclaimed and imaginative comic book writer of this generation, has led, and continues to lead, a fascinating life. The line between fact and fiction, between fantasy and reality, between what he makes up for his stories and what he's actually transcribing from his own experiences for his stories, is an incredibly thin and blurry one. Part of the appeal of his writing, and consequently of him, is the fact that no one is quite sure just what is fact and what is fiction when it concerns him. The mystery surrounding the man is part of his character, which he has in turn used for several different characters over his writing career.

The aforementioned information barrage is the thrust of the film. There must have been hundreds of hours of footage shot, between the at least half-dozen interviews with Morrison himself, along with the many different comic creators, counter-culture personalities, and friends who appear in the film. There are people who appear on-screen for literally 2 seconds to say something that bridges a gap between the 2 surrounding statements. It could be argued that this is incredibly efficient filmmaking, that only the best and most relevant bits are what comprise the film. While that may be true, it doesn't necessarily mean it's what should have been done. You aren't really given a chance to digest what anyone is saying, because the next clip is biting at the heels of the previous one, almost as if each sound byte is vying for your attention. Make no mistake, what's there is terrific; there are some fantastic quotes from many different people, and many quotable lines from Morrison himself. It's just not an easy film to watch.

Talking With Gods is a patchwork of interview segments, and must have been an absolute nightmare to compile from the editing standpoint. Often, brief segments of Morrison talking about a subject are intercut with other brief segments of Morrison talking, from a different interview, about the same subject. While it makes sense in a linear standpoint, you rarely get to see someone finish a sentence, let alone a full thought. It makes the film come across as a million little parts that never quite come together to form a cohesive whole. It gets the job done well enough; you learn much about Morrison, you get to follow his progression from childhood to professional writer to "comic book rock star"...but due to the way the million little bits are put together, you're left with a nagging feeling of "what else did each person have to say?" And while it does provide you with information about Morrison and his works, because of the manner in which it is presented, it somehow seems less than authentic. If you pull out tiny fragments from any sentence about anyone, you could make the worst person in the world seem wonderful, or vice versa.

Not that I'm trying to bash Morrison. I'm a huge fan of his work, and the man himself is incredibly positive and upbeat, and the energy he has is contagious, and he WANTS you to take some of his energy and put it to use for yourself. I just think the film suffers a little from trying to compress too many elements and sources of information into one 80 minute documentary. Which must be a bit like what it is being Morrison himself; too many ideas, and not enough time and space to get them all down.

No comments:

Post a Comment