“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.” Thus begins Howard Beale’s iconic speech from Sidney Lumet’s 1976 masterpiece, Network, and thus begins my piece, Birth-Rite. Shot entirely within the confines of a small alleyway near 15th and Larimer in the Lower Downtown area of Denver, Birth-Rite is a scathing critique of the Capitalistic system that has seemingly undermined the value of life, both human and otherwise, on this finite planet. It’s a short that progresses from the serene to the chaotic, from the perceived to the reality, and from the ideal to the downright frightening.
A tower looms tall in many of the shots, but it’s not really there. It’s a broken image of our wants and desires, an image that is projected onto a brick wall and locked behind a set of blurred bars. Perhaps you never see the bars, so you keep reaching for this ideal, and it’s the pursuit that enthralls you. But perhaps you make it beyond the bars. What do you find? You find that what you were looking for all along was nothing more than a projection, nothing more than the carrot that kept you running on the treadmill of consumerist society.
People walk by, as if in a daze, as they go about their lives. Little do they know that they are all part of the machine that keeps this great injustice standing on its two feet. It’s not that they don’t care. They’re simply unaware. In that way, Howard Beale had it right all along. “You’ve got to get mad,” he would say. Perhaps even mad as hell, and hopefully to the point of not taking it anymore.
But first, “You’ve got to say, I’m a human being, Godammit! My life has value!”
Birth-Rite was shot on a Canon 60D DSLR with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 and a Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 fisheye. It was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.
Music: Excerpt from Igor Stravinski's "Rite of Spring"
Additional Audio: Excerpts from "Network" 1976, Dir. Sidney Lumet.
Any and all comments are much appreciated. Thanks for watching.
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