Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, Swans: Where Does a Body End?, Swans:, Where, Does, a, Body, End?, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Michael Gira, Jarboe, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Amanda Palmer, Devendra Banhart, Blixa Bargeld, J.g. Thirlwell, Jehnny Beth, Jim Sclavunos, Marco Porsia, Documentary

SWANS: WHERE DOES A BODY END?

★★★★

AN EXHAUSTIVE LOOK AT AN EXHAUSTING BAND

MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
11th July 2020

After years of hearing about the experimental rock band Swans from a few friends, I finally decided to give them a shot.

I downloaded 'To Be Kind' and listened to it while I went shopping. It's a great album for walking around Woolworths to, because it makes you feel like you're on some kind of sinister secret mission instead of looking for those Woolies-brand chocolate chip cookies. Plus, you stop paying attention to the album for a few minutes while you're trying to decide between all these different kinds of toilet paper that they have nowadays, you don't miss anything because when you come back to it... Swans are still playing the same part they were playing before you zoned out. Perhaps the best way to approach the band is to set aside two hours, smoke a joint, and melt into the music.

Marco Porsia's documentary 'Swans: Where Does a Body End?' features interviews with key figures in the band (like Michael Gira, Jonathan Kane and Thor Harris), well as Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, Savage's Jehnny Beth, Amanda Palmer, Kid Kongo, Ben Frost, Devendra Banhardt, JG Thirlwell, and many more of Swans' contemporaries and fans. Porsia, a cinematographer who immersed himself into the inner circle of Swans for five years, filmed rehearsals, songwriting sessions, the grind of life on the road, petty squabbles and transcendent performances.

WATCH: 'SWANS: WHERE DOES A BODY END?'
WATCH HUNDREDS OF UNIQUE FILMS
SWITCH
WATCH

The film begins with the first, early-80s incarnation of Swans. The band's early reputation was fearsome, due to the punishing volume of their live shows and nihilistic, misanthropic lyrics. They were a noise ensemble that terrorised New York's post-No Wave scene, and made Sonic Youth sound like bratty siblings by comparison - singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira layered album upon album, each a strata of sediment building upon - and subtly changing - what came before. A lot of doom and sludge bands (Tool, Mudhoney, etc.) have cited Swans as an influence, as in their early period they took their noise industrial No Wave mayhem to tempos never done before. In the late 80s, great holes started appearing in Swans' sonic monolith, hollows that Gira filled with acoustic instrumentation, female vocals (courtesy of perennial member Jarboe, also interviewed here), and the bleakest strains of gospel, folk, and blues (Howlin' Wolf is singled out for mention).

As well as his own collection of live Swans material filmed since their reunion in 2010, Porsia was granted access to an extensive collection of live tapes and never before seen home videos from their early years.

On stage the stoic, meditative Gira performs as a sort of mad conductor, gyrating and flailing with what's to be perceived as the primal, cathartic release of Swans' music. Omniscient crescendos pile one atop the other as Gira's possessed body movements often work independently of a track's overall thrum.

For fans of the band, this documentary is primo stuff, especially the huge amount of archival footage, which includes some rare shots of Gira performing with his early post-punk band, Circus Mort; Swans recording during The Glowing Man sessions; and the rehearsals of The Knot. As well as his own collection of live Swans material filmed since their reunion in 2010, Porsia was granted access to an extensive collection of live tapes and never-before-seen home videos from their early years.

A revealing profile of frontman Michael Gira and an honest and exhaustive look at the band, Marco Porsia's 'Swans: Where Does a Body End?' does the seemingly impossible by defining a musical collective that has been in a constant state of metamorphosis and reinvention ever since it was created.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 2h 1m
CAST: Michael Gira
Jarboe
Thurston Moore
Lee Ranaldo
Amanda Palmer
Devendra Banhart
Blixa Bargeld
J.g. Thirlwell
Jehnny Beth
Jim Sclavunos
DIRECTOR: Marco Porsia
PRODUCERS: Michael Wabro
Simon Mattock
Nick Rosendorf
SCORE: Swans
www.wheredoesabodyend.com
wheredoesabodyend
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne Documentary Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights. 
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Who the hell is Bloodshot? - A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
TRENDINGWHO THE HELL IS BLOODSHOT?A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
TRENDINGMALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWERContemplating love and loss
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two - New villains, same problems
TRENDINGBATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART TWONew villains, same problems
Buckley's Chance - Not worth a chance
TRENDINGBUCKLEY'S CHANCENot worth a chance
Calm with Horses - A savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
TRENDINGCALM WITH HORSESA savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
Shiva Baby - A comedy of discomfort
TRENDINGSHIVA BABYA comedy of discomfort
The Glass Room - Stunning yet soulless
TRENDINGTHE GLASS ROOMStunning yet soulless
Some Kind of Heaven - A bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
TRENDINGSOME KIND OF HEAVENA bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
The Swallows of Kabul - Unflinching and gorgeously animated
TRENDINGTHE SWALLOWS OF KABULUnflinching and gorgeously animated
Cerulean Blue - Promising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
TRENDINGCERULEAN BLUEPromising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
2:22 - Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
TRENDING2:22Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
Birds of Prey - I'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
TRENDINGBIRDS OF PREYI'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
La Dolce Vita - Not as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
TRENDINGLA DOLCE VITANot as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!