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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 04.07.10] movie news horror experimental

[Editor's note: I've been talking with Ian off and on for some time, and while I'm excited to see his film Nadine which I'm going to finally get a screener for, MAN IN WOOD takes the cake. If only we could share all the material provided, but alas, we can't.]

A woman wakes up from a nightmare involving a sexual encounter with a decomposed corpse in an isolated mountain cottage. An old hotel houses a dead spirit of her mother and the rotting carcass of a goatlike animal while a jukebox inexplicably plays her favored childhood pop songs. These are but a taste of the twisted insides that make up artist/filmmaker Ian Simpson's next horror-tinged outing, Man in Wood.

When I first read the synopsis for Man in Wood, I got the distinct feeling that this is what it must have been like for the people who first read Von Trier's Anti-Christ. Obviously free of all types of standard film categorization, Man in Wood is a deeply personal film that delves into the subconscious to discover insights into age old questions like: Where do we come from? Where do we go? Who are we?

So where does inspiration for a film like this come from? In his own words, Simpson says that "After beginning a film project with the distinguished German artist Stephan Balkenhol an intensely productive wood sculptor, whose sculptured figures are far from heroic or romantic but somewhat ordinary everyman type, his work inspired me to search deeper into the quest of what it means to be human... My research took me through the French regions of Alsace, Lorraine, throughout Moselle the mountains of the Vosges along the valley of the Rhine, to Germany into the depth of the black forest, down to Berlin, the Baltic and its remote islands, Poland- it seemed never-ending."

"Images of timber, wood, kindling and the mythologies of trees, yet more was required, barren landscape, fruitful gardens, ancient cemeteries, cathedrals, asylums, architectural monuments of yesteryear, folks both young and old. I wrote, photographed, filmed things and of course things that at times seemed of no importance, but later would revive relevance. I interviewed clergymen, politician, journalist, arboriculturalist, professors, cobblers, stonecutters, doctors, bankers, bakers... people. I interviewed ordinary village folks and ended up with rushes of film that resembled a dizzy kaleidoscope of an anxious mind."

What came of all this passionate investigation is a film that stems from memories of childhood. Simpson says in a fascinating stream of intention notes he sent us that "his father was a man of wood..." and then goes on to reminisce about his fathers work as a lumber man and then tie everything back to his story of a woman on a strange search through her past present and future.

If this all sounds a little hard to get hold of, blame me. Sifting through some of Simpson's heady notes, I'm trying to put the pieces together in such a way that it all makes sense, but of course, being that Man in Wood attempts to break the norms of narrative filmmaking, I just have to wait to view the film and have it all make sense.

For those of you who like your film descriptions wrapped up in a neat little package, Simpson tells us to think of Man in Wood as "a cross between Fulci and Bresson." Yeah, sounds awesome.

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Brett (12 years ago) Reply

Holy fuck! This is worth following. Please keep updating us on this and Man Without A Head

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