Synchronicity is not a recent concept in the realm of pop culture, and has become quite well known with regards to the eerie pairing of The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A long time ago though, I discovered an even more eerie pairing that synchronized in an unnerving fashion: The film Begotten and Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar…
Long ago, I stumbled across references to a film called Begotten. The images that I had seen online from the movie gave haunting and disturbing impressions. Curious, I began looking into the movie, and eventually watched the film. I was always interested in viewing challenging films, particularly those considered to be within the horror genre.
Begotten, filmed and directed in 1991, by E. Elias Merhige, is in essence a horror-themed creation myth. It is not an easy film to watch to begin with; the camera work is in extreme black and white, with many of the scenes wide open to interpretation (many have referred this film as to being a moving Rorschach test) for the eye. There is no dialogue, just subtle sound effects that flow with the visuals.
Viewing the movie, it is clear that Merhige’s visuals would prove to be hugely influential to the current crop of horror movie directors; but if you are after a clear cut bloody horror movie, then Begotten is not for you. It’s very vague, and is not your orthodox run-of-the-mill horror flick. It is more of an artistic expression open to interpretation.
The plot of Begotten commences with a dying god, killing himself. The scene is as bloody as it is disturbing. After his death, Mother Nature emerges, impregnating herself with the seed of the Dead God. She eventually gives birth to the Son of Earth, a writhing mortal who spasms helplessly. He is abandoned and then subsequently discovered by a group of nomads.
The nomads take the Son of Earth with them, and they receive his regurgitation of body organs as miraculous gifts. As the nomads begin to turn on the Son of Earth and burn him, Mother Nature re-materializes to save him; the nomads in turn, beat, rape, and murder Mother Earth. A group of characters that may perhaps only be identified as Death Nomads arrive, they dismember the bodies of Mother Earth and the Son of Earth and lay them to rest – the burial places eventually becoming lush with floral growth.
While examining and watching Begotten, I kept coming across references to Marilyn Manson. The most obvious connection was that the video clip for “Cryptorchid,” a single from the album Antichrist Superstar, was directed by Merhige, and included footage from Begotten.
Fascinated, I began to dig deeper, discovering that the band were fans of Merhige’s work; particular that of Begotten. Viewing the “Cryptorchid” video clip captivated me even further, as it began dawning on me that the Begotten scenes harmonized the music so well.
At that point, the Dark Side of the Rainbow (Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz) synchronicity came to mind. I started to question, “what if Marilyn Manson had synchronized the Antichrist Superstar album with this film by Merhige?” Curious, I checked the running time for each. Minus the 82 tracks of silence added after the final song “The Man That You Fear,” but counting the hidden 99th ambient track, Antichrist Superstar clocks in at 71 minutes and 44 seconds long.
This is also the precise length of Begotten.
Amazed, I tried the experiment of watching Begotten on mute, while playing Antichrist Superstar. Astonishingly, though as I had suspected, the motion picture and the album match each other perfectly.
Here are some observations from when I watched it with Manson as the soundtrack:
- The suicide of God occurs during the two opening tracks, “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” and “The Beautiful People.” The images during the second track match the feel of the song, and are evocative and reminiscent of the original music video for it.
- The scene where Mother Earth impregnates herself with the semen of the Dead God plays with the lyric, “I’ll be your lover. I’ll be forever” from the song “Dried Up, Tied, and Dead to the World.”
- The Dead God’s casket disappears at the precise moment Manson sings “I never wanted it to end like this” from “Tourniquet.”
- As the Son of Earth is born and commences to writhe on the ground, “Little Horn is Born” plays.
- While “Cryptorchid” plays, the nomads begin dragging the Son of Earth by the umbilical twine.
- As the nomads begin excitedly accepting the gifts from the Son of Earth, Manson aptly sings, “Lift you up like the sweetest angel, tear you down like a whore” – a fitting analogy to foreshadowing the fate of the Son of Earth.
- As the Son of Earth regurgitates organs: “I make myself sick, just to poison you.” This scene plays during “Angel with the Scabbed Wings.”
- Just before the title track of the album plays, the nomads become aware of the return of Mother Earth. She is struck by the nomads, and she falls; as if cued, the music begins at the specific moment as she hits the ground.
- Also of curiosity is the fact that the rape of Mother Earth happens during the song “Antichrist Superstar.” One of the lyrics of the previous song was, “You are what you should fear,” and the nomads in the film represent ‘humanity.’ Manson was continually active on using prophetic symbolism as metaphors for society. Is he saying that because humanity rapes Mother Earth, that humanity is, inherently, the Antichrist?
- Mother Earth dies as “Antichrist Superstar” ends. “When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you…”
- The dismemberment and ‘funeral’ of Mother Earth takes place during the song “The Minute of Decay.”
- The next moment we see The Son of Earth: “I went to God just to see, and I was looking as me…”
- When the Death Nomads ultimately return for the Son of Earth, the second chorus of “The Reflecting God” plays; matching lyrically the lines, “When I’m God everyone dies,” and “Each thing I show you is a piece of my death.”
- The remains of the Son of Earth are buried as Manson sings, “Pray your life was just a dream.”
- The screen fades to black: “There’s no-one left to hear you scream.”
Everything appeared to synchronize perfectly with the scenes on-screen and the lyrics/music of Marilyn Manson. It was a bizarre experimentation, but I was speechless at how well the two forms blended seamlessly together. Surely this was no coincidence?
It is apparent that Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar is, on its own, a specific concept album, that follows the journey of an identifiable character (and carried over on the albums Mechanical Animals and HolyWood), with strong social commentary. So, I do not believe that Antichrist Superstar is the story of Begotten; but I do believe that the album was possibly synchronized to the movie to add further meaning and detail to the social commentary and observations Manson makes on the album.
Certainly, it could all be just a coincidence. Just like Dark Side of the Rainbow. The band members of Pink Floyd have claimed for years that the pairing was never deliberate. Or was it? On the cover of the 1995 album Pulse by Pink Floyd, is imagery (such as a girl with ruby slippers) that references the synchronicity – an artistic move that many fans perceived as the band deviously confirming that it was no coincidence.
So, did Marilyn Manson coordinate the concept of Antichrist Superstar to the film Begotten by E. Elias Merhige? If you’re interested in trying the experimentation for yourself, let me know what you think by commenting below.