BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Shropshire

Black Country
Hereford & Worcester

Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

The Cremaster Cycle
15The Cremaster Cycle (2003)

updated 06 October 2003
reviewer's rating
4 out of 5
Reviewed by Jamie Russell

Matthew Barney
Matthew Barney
Matthew Barney
Norman Mailer
Ursula Andress
Marti Domination
Aimee Mullins
Richard Serra
403 minutes
Palm Pictures
17 October 2003

Owing more to art installations than arthouse cinema, Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle is a series of surreal forays into the realms of myth, sex, and contemporary culture. It also requires an explanation booklet the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in order to make any sense.

Rich in astoundingly imaginative sequences, the dialogue-lite films (numbered 1 to 5, but shot out of chronological order between 1994 and 2002) are likely to scare off most mainstream cinemagoers with their epic scope and self-consciously arty feel And yet they're weird enough to be worth persevering with.

Cremaster 1 (46 mins, PG, 1995) follows the adventures of a woman dressed in stockings and suspenders, hiding under a dining table in an airship cabin. Below her, a Busby Berkeley-style musical number is taking place on an indoor American football pitch.

Cremaster 2 (79 mins, 18, 1999) focuses on executed American murderer Gary Gilmore (Barney), who sits in a strange, womb-like car in a Utah gas station.

Cremaster 3 (182 mins, 15, 2002) is the weirdest of the quintet, a strange and exotic film about New York's Chrysler Building, where Gilmore's body has been laid to rest. Turned into a woman, Gilmore's corpse is placed inside a Chrysler car that's smashed into a single cube of metal, then force-fed into the mouth of a character (Barney again) strapped to a dentist's chair at the top of the building.

Cremaster 4 (42 mins, 12A, 1994) features colour-coded motorcycle racing around the Isle of Man.

Cremaster 5 (54 mins, 12A, 1997) is a lavish opera performed by the Budapest Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra, starring Ursula Andress.

Dense and impenetrable, this remarkable work is also astoundingly provocative. The primary theme is sexual difference ('cremaster' is the name of the muscle that attaches the scrotum to the groin), but around this Barney weaves a mythic, self-contained universe that riffs on biology, cinema, architecture and American history with an astounding certainty of purpose.

Imagine the offspring of David Lynch, JG Ballard and Damien Hirst - and you'll still only be halfway there.

Find out more about "The Cremaster Cycle" at
Movie Review Query Engine
The Internet Movie Database

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

Top| Films Index | Home

BBC Shropshire Bollywood news, reviews and galleries
Red bullet point Bollywood film galleries
BBC Shropshire film search
Red bullet point What to see in Shropshire
BBC Shropshire guide to top ten films to watch this month
Red bullet point What to watch this month
BBC Shropshire film vault
Red bullet point Packed full of film reviews

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy