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directed by Simon Pummell
UK 2003


The film is roughly structured in two parts, first celebrating the human body as it goes from birth to growth to death, then lamenting its abuse in a cycle of shots portraying violence, war and disease.

Drawing from 100 years of images, and from sources as diverse as Dziga Vertov's "Man With a Movie Camera" and Saudi TV, Pummell and editor Daniel Goddard splice images together with machine-gun editing that challenges the viewer to pay attention and make associations. In the place of dialogue or commentary, Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood offers a mysteries-of-the-universe musical comment that sometimes soothes and sometimes stimulates.

Excerpt of review from Deborah Young located HERE


Theatrical Release: December 5th, 2003 (UK)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:17:48

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.99 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (LPCM 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Blinded by Light (7:31)
• How Long is a Minute? (1:01)
• A filmed interview with director Simon Pummell (6:58)
• Theatrical trailer
• Commentary on the soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood and Simon Pummell
• The full award-winning Bodysong website with the stories of the people portrayed in each of the extr
• Original essays by William Gibson, Geoff Andrew, Gareth Evans and Matt Hanson

DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2010
Keep Case (Special edition comes in cardboard case with book)

Chapters 16





As he tells us in the audio interview included in this release, Simon Pummell's "Bodysong" is intended to be the story of a human life. Of course it cannot literally be the story of one single human life as it is composed entirely of found footage, showing many different lives from the past 100 years and all over the world. Instead the film is the story of lives in general. Regardless of geography or temporal location, touching on tropes and themes that are common throughout all of human life: birth, sex, violence, death, and birth again. The films here come from a myriad of sources, home videos, a UNICEF film, Edison's "The Kiss", Jarman's "Glitterbug", BBC specials, government sponsored shorts, and so on. While this may sound like a hodgepodge of images strung together, the film itself is more than the sum of its parts. Despite the fact that there is virtually no dialogue (the only other sound is the ethereal and haunting composition by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame), the film tells a compelling story and never gets dull for a moment. This is a fantastic film and another one that I probably would have never heard of if it weren't for the BFI. Keep up the good work guys, it's much appreciated!

Since the film is composed of a mixture of different sources, the quality of the image varies from one shot to the next. Some are taken from grainy 16 mm prints, some from clearer 35 mm prints, and even a few that look like digital video. Some of the films are perfectly clear, others have scratches, dirt, or dust. What is consistent, however, is the fact that the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, even though quite a few of the films were originally full frame and the end result is a somewhat noticeable stretching of some of the images. I suppose that Pummell was left with an unenviable choice. Since his film united such diverse material he could pick one aspect ratio and have the image slightly stretched, or constantly switch back and forth between ratios with each cut. Given his options, I certainly agree with his choice.

Although there are almost no instances of dialogue, what is present is clear enough. The real story here though, is Greenwood's score, which is the perfect compliment for the images on screen. The LPCM track produces crystal clear audio without a whiff of any artificial manipulations or unwanted background noise. Since it's most relevant here, I'll mention the commentary track featuring the director and Greenwood which intermittently pops up after long periods of silence. While the information that we get is great, I for one would have preferred a longer commentary featuring at least Pummell discussing more about the film than just its music.

Included in the disc are two relatively entertaining early shorts from Pummell, "Blinded by Light" and "How Long is a Minute?". I found myself enjoying the latter more, but there was certainly nothing wrong with the former. Next there's a theatrical trailer, and a short interview with Pummell that I suppose I'll settle for in lieu of a full commentary. At least here he discusses the genesis of the project, the making of the film, and tracking down the director of an obscure 1970s porn loop. However, my favorite extra by far is the outstanding 196 page booklet that only comes with the collector's edition. Here we not only get the usual set of scholarly essays (including one from the great sci-fi author William Gibson), but also pages upon pages of stills and a detailed paragraph on each and every film used to make "Bodysong". For those that loved the movie as much as I did, there is no doubt that the collector's edition is the way to go.

This is a great film with a lot of attention and care put into its release. This is an easy recommendation, and a very, very high one at that. If you do decide to pick it up, then I strongly recommend purchasing the collector's edition. While it may be a few extra pounds, its worth the money.

 - Brian Montgomery


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