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SYNOPSIS FOR: Cremaster 2

CREMASTER 2 is rendered as a gothic Western that introduces conflict into the system. On the biological level it corresponds to the phase of fetal development during which sexual division begins. In Matthew Barney’s abstraction of this process, the system resists partition and tries to remain in the state of equilibrium imagined in Cremaster 1. Cremaster 2 embodies this regressive impulse through its looping narrative, moving from 1977, the year of Gary Gilmore’s execution, to 1893, when Harry Houdini, who may have been Gilmore’s grandfather, performed at the World’s Columbian Exposition. The film is structured around three interrelated themes – the landscape as witness, the story of Gilmore (played by Barney), and the life of bees – that metaphorically describe the potential of moving backward in order to escape one’s destiny. Both Gilmore’s kinship to Houdini (played by Norman Mailer) and his correlation with the male bee are established in the sÈance/conception scene in the beginning of the film, during which Houdini’s spirit is summoned and Gilmore’s father expires after fertilizing his wife. Gilmore’s sense of his own doomed role as drone is expressed in the ensuing sequence in a recording studio where Dave Lombardo, former drummer of Slayer, is playing a solo to the sound of swarming bees. A man shrouded by bees with the voice of Steve Tucker, lead vocalist of Morbid Angel, growls into a telephone. Collectively these figures allude to Johnny Cash, who is said to have called Gilmore on the night of his execution in response to the convict’s dying wish.

Genre: Drama

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