30 June 2011

General Orders No. 9

Written & Directed by: Robert Persons
Full credits at IMDb

General Orders No. 9 is a rapturous ode to Georgia and a plaint for paradise lost—for what has been paved over and polluted, poisoned by the dissonance of urban asymmetry. In the first half, first time writer-director Robert Persons traces the state's (and country's?) evolution: "deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road"; the opening monologue describes the geometric patterns found in county planning and the construction of roads, using the kind of language poets usually reserve for celestial bodies. Narrator William Davidson gives soft voice to Persons's historical, philosophical and spiritual ruminations: "here there is a sense of order... not one brick out of true, not one heifer out of pasture." Against this narration, reminiscent of 19th century free verse, Persons parades images of carefully composed and naturally lighted landscapes; it looks like a Malick movie stripped of its narrative pretenses: sun, mists, clouds, trees, fields, roads, fish, farm animals, churches, water towers and small-town storefronts; the flames of a fire, flickering in slow motion. Persons' portrait of a place disregards its people for its topography; the meditative General Orders No. 9 seems to function within cosmological time (for which human life is too ephemeral), where man-made structures resemble ruins and stand amid flowers, lakesides, and ceramic figurines. At least, anyway, until the interstate arrives.

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