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Director(s): E. Elias Merhige

Theatrical Release: 1990

Cast: Brian Salzberg, Donna Dempsey, Stephen Charles Barry

Genre(s): Horror, Avant-Garde

Countries: USA

Location in store: Please see staff for assistance

(1 / 1)
Ant Rating
Running Time: 78m.

A "metaphysical splatter film" that was praised by Susan Sontag as "one of the 10 most important films of modern times," Begotten is a very grainy, often powerful work of experimental cinema which seems to land somewhere between David Lynch's surreal Eraserhead and James Broughton's heavily symbolic Dreamwood. The film opens with God Killing Himself: a man in rags slicing into his own belly as he spews dark fluid and oozes filth. Mother Earth emerges, or is born, from this excoriation and travels to a primeval forest. There she gives birth to Son of Earth-Flesh on Bone: a quivering man-child. The two are found by a tribe of faceless, druid-like figures dressed in rags, and though mother and child are at first revered, they are finally tortured, dismembered, and buried by the tribe. From their grave, life begins, and flora emerges from the wasteland. Filmed on black & white reversal film and then re-photographed onto a black & white negative, E. Elias Merhige's stark, grainy images of a squirming, oozing, mythical Creation are not easy to digest or to forget. Merhige's own experimental theater troupe, Theaterofmaterial, performs throughout. - Anthony Reed (

"The result is a thing of beauty, where realistic images are turned upside down by the grotesque and flowers are trampled by the darkening clouds of a nightmare." - Film Threat

"Intense.: - Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A sort of metaphysical splatter film...ferociously visual...inexplicable weirdness." - J. Hoberman, Premiere

"Nobody will get through BEGOTTEN without being marked. In this nightmare classic by Edmund Elias Merhige, a godlike thing dies giving birth to a quivering messiah thing; then the local villager things ravage and bury them, and the earth renews itself on their corpses. It is as if a druidical cult had re-enacted, for real, three Bible stories - creation, the Nativity and Jesus' torture and death on Golgotha - and some demented genius were there to film it. No names, no dialogue, no compromises, no exit. No apologies either, for BEGOTTEN is a spectacular one-of-a-kind (you wouldn't want there to be two), filmed in speckled chiaroscuro so that each image is a seductive mystery, a Rorschach test for the adventurous eye. - Richard Corliss, Time