Three decades in the making, Phil Tibbett’s Mad God is a movie for this moment

Phil Tibbett’s new movie God’s madness It opens with an image of a gigantic spiraling creature emerging from the top of a stepped pyramid, and then destroyed by lightning bolts. Then comes a particularly sinister passage from the untreated abscess of the Old Testament, Leviticus. (“You eat your sons’ flesh and your daughters’ flesh.”) The rest of the movie doesn’t get any lighter or brighter than that. It would in no way diminish the first-time viewer’s experience to know that a third of the way through the film, the character who had until that point been the focus of the film is so casually tortured and butchered, to the polite applause of Hosni—the dressed and awning onlookers.

The film, which began airing on Shudder on June 16, is as follows: A stop-motion animation, with no context or reason. A character on awakening is not unlike a soldier in World War I descended from somewhere in a strange, bell-like body into, let’s call it, a view of hell. His mission is to detonate…something. (He is known, in the credits only, as The Assassin.) He has a map that disintegrates the further he travels. Along the way we witness a grotesque and brutal procession. butchering giant tardigrades for meat; broken statues The thing without legs holds something else smaller, only being divided in two by another thing bigger and more virulent; Room full of giants, all getting electrocuted and slandering themselves, then shit feeds on a massive beast. Then there are the drones. Identical mystical beings, kinda human and very fragile, a workforce in hell, killed in vain by anyone or anyone who passes by. (There is also a pit of fire in which they can sacrifice themselves, if they are so inclined.)

What there isn’t: Narration, character, or dialogue, unless you count nonsense from the double mouth bleeding with a child’s voice as dialogue. Nothing happens without something getting hurt. nothing happens but something gets hurt. God’s madness He does not drown in violence, is not punished, or raises his value. It is simply an uncommon style of hard-earned brutality. It’s gorgeous, but it’s also what it looks like.


All of The Assassin’s progression – as well as that of its subsequent replacement – is. Down, through the lower layers and layers, the former bones, and the many bones, into the different layers of whatever world this was. The movie in the literal sense of the word is a downer. Maggie Nelson writes in “Space…Challenges the Vertical Logic of Revelation” the art of crueltywhich asserts that there is something beneath the surface of our daily life—whether it be the ultimate meaning, the face of God, our essential nature, the ultimate terror, ecstasy, judgment, or some combination of the above—that will be revealed when the veil is lifted.

God’s madness It is clearly not the first work of art built on an edifice of brutality. Nelson blogs quite a few of her book catalogs, and in the clip above she was writing about the experience of watching the gruesome video installation of Paul and Damon McCarthy Pirates of the Caribbean. However, you can easily talk about a realm God’s madness. If observing violence makes the observer complicit in it, the least we can ask is to feel it Why. This grace is not granted here, not even an allusion to it. “If you ask what God’s madness Tibet said in an interview with Kharafi. “I say it’s about scale, process and time.”

Scale, process and time are not abstract concepts, here. Tippett took 30 years to make God’s madness. a pioneer in special effects and one of the last stop-motion artists – Nick Park, Jan Svankmigir, The Brothers Quay; That’s more of it—most famously, Tibet created the fearsome game of chess aboard the Millennium Falcon at star Wars The AT-ATs in Empire strikes. Perhaps more than that, for our purposes here, he also triggered ED-209, a faceless, murderous, tragic cop in Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop. Steven Spielberg hired him to create dinosaurs for him Jurassic Park But he changed his mind when he saw what computers could do.

Spielberg’s decision, both creatively and psychologically, was a huge turning point not only in how the films were made, but also in how it felt and felt. The stuttering movement has now been effectively dwarfed, officially capturing the stop-motion movement with the smooth, creep-free weirdness of CGI. (Spielberg still keeps Tippett for animated dinosaur expressions, etc.). In 1990, Tippett began working on his stop motion project in his studio. Produced at close intervals over the subsequent decades, it was regularly abandoned and rerun as Tippett worked on other films, with Paul Verhoeven’s Spaceship Soldiers being unforgettable. Only after a Kickstarter campaign launched in 2013 with $120,000 did the studio slowly buy new equipment and supplies and, gradually, bring in groups of veteran effects producers, art students, and various volunteers to work on the film, and finally or legally, God’s madness completed.

Tibet said over and over that he hates it God’s madness. His being devoured by something he hated so much culminated in a brief hospitalization for psychiatric treatment. Given what the movie is about, this almost seems apt, and it might well be: Tippett told interviewers that hospitalizations both happened. Before And the after, after The movie is completed. Depression distorts memory. Depression while messing around in the abyss would leave the memory in shreds. It’s not hard to read the movie’s title as a nod to its creator, who is after all the honorable force devising and managing all that violence, the only existence in this brutal world who is fully aware and in control of what he’s doing. This raises an interesting question about the use of crazy in the title. Is it confused madness or angry madness? A deranged god who unwittingly unleashes chaos, or an angry god with a mission beyond brutality, even if that isn’t obvious to the audience?

In his interview with KharafiIt’s impossible, Tibbett said, that the film wasn’t “a kind of reflection of the era, the Gestalt of the time.” This is true as far as it goes. Thirty years will give you a lot of Gestalt. However, it’s surprising how much a movie is today God’s madness He is, and not just because of how he completes his senseless flirtation with the broader culture and embodies the sudden acceleration of familiar violence. In repeated viewings of the film, I found myself less interested in The Assassin(s), the massacre scene, or the deliberate incoherence in the film’s nightmare sweep.

Instead, I realized I was drawn more and more to drones, the flimsy worker stuff that could be dispensed with; “People with thinner skin work and die under the slowly changing stars,” Annie Dillard said. They walk and work in the service of who knows what; Their rewards are the most common and least exciting deaths. Let’s not dig too deeply into the meaning. A flicker of sympathy overlooks the brink of carnage. We can leave it at that. God’s madness Overwhelmed, rather enduring, a surrounding and incomplete brutality and the constant and unnoticeable devaluation of life. Both are true, both are there, in every moment, now; Some insight is easier to enjoy than others. Perhaps most exciting—and appalling—is the fate of that weak current and its countless, faceless, voiceless passengers, all running resolutely beneath the raging surface.

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