Follow TV Tropes


Film / Begotten

Go To
God, in the first scene of the film, in the process of disemboweling himself. It only gets worse from there.

"Language bearers, photographers, diary makers. You with your memory are dead, frozen. Lost in a present that never stops passing. Here lives the incantation of matter. A language forever. Like a flame burning away the darkness, life is flesh on bone convulsing above the ground."
Opening text

Begotten is a 1990 experimental Surreal Horror film written, produced and directed by E Elias Merhige. The film was shot entirely in black-and-white with no dialogue whatsoever. The plot, meanwhile, is an utterly nightmarish retelling of the Book of Genesis. It starts with God disemboweling himself, after which Mother Earth rises from his remains and impregnates herself with his semen. Later, she births the Son of Earth and leaves him to his own devices. But a group of masked nomads attack them gruesomely, and the rest of the film shows the resulting struggle.

A (much shorter) Spiritual Sequel, Din of Celestial Birds, was released in 2006.

This film contains the following tropes:

  • The Bad Guy Wins: The nomads successfully rape and kill Mother Earth, then kill her son soon after.
  • Based on a True Story: Kind of; it's based on a near-death experience the producer had when he was nineteen.
  • Big Bad: The masked nomads spend the film hunting down and killing Mother Earth and the Son of Earth.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • God commits suicide by disembowelment, cutting through his chest with a knife and spilling his blood and organs on the ground.
    • Mother Earth is gang-raped by the Nomads, who then mutilate her.
    • Son of Earth is killed twice- first, the nomads seize him by his umbilical cord and make him vomit organs, which they accept as gifts, then throw him into a fire pit when he runs out, and then after he is resurrected, the robed figures disembowel him as well.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: There isn't even a single shade of gray in the movie.
  • Downer Ending: God Is Dead, and Mother Earth and Son of Earth are murdered by the nomads.
  • Driven to Suicide: God starts the movie by disemboweling himself. It is never said just what drove him to it.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: invoked Pretty much the whole point of the movie.
  • The Faceless: God and the nomads.
  • Le Film Artistique: An American black and white movie with almost no contrast at all (the colours shown are dirty white or dirty black, nothing between), no dialogue, no music, and a story showing an allegory of the Creation of Life through a succession of enigmatic and very gory scenes.
  • Forced to Watch: The Son of Earth watched helplessly as his mother is raped and brutally killed by the Nomads.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Due to the lack of dialogue, the Nomads do not seem to have a motivation for raping Mother Earth and gruesomely killing her as well as the Son of Earth, nor do they have any real personality. It seems to be an allegory for humanity “raping” the Earth through environmental destruction.
  • Ghostly Gape: God has pitch-black eyes and a wide-open pitch-black mouth.
  • God Is Dead: According to the credits, the man who disembowels himself in the opening is named "God killing himself".
  • Gorn: The movie doesn't shy away from showing closeups of God's stomach wound while it gushes out blood and when Mother Earth is raped by the nomads.
  • Green Aesop: The Nomads gruesomely raping and murdering Mother Earth and killing her son seems to be an allegory for human destruction of the environment.
  • Hope Spot: After being killed by the nomads, Mother Earth's Son is resurrected by her. Then the nomads come back, then rape and kill her. Then other guys appear, take her corpse with them, dismember her, kill the son and dismember him too.
  • Karma Houdini: The nomads rape and kill Mother Earth, then kill Son of Earth, and leave the film afterwards, never to be seen again.
  • Leave the Camera Running: In true Le Film Artistique fashion, the film has a lot of run-on scenes. The opening with God's disembowelment, for one, takes up the first eight minutes of the movie.
  • Leitmotif: The closest thing to music this movie has is a hollow ambient whenever Mother Earth is present.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The murderous rapist nomads are masked.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Mother Earth arouses God's dead body and impregnates herself with his semen. Then she gives birth to an adult man after supposedly a short amount of time.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Graphically averted; shortly after dying, God proceeds to defecate on the floor.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • This is the entire premise of the film. All the events happening in the film are meant to represent the events of the Genesis in the Bible, especially with Mother Earth impregnating herself with God's semen. (The latter is supposed to represent God impregnating the Virgin Mary with Jesus.)
    • This film also follows the path of at least one arc of Egyptian mythology, with the above event being similar to the story of Isis impregnating herself using the fallen Osiris's penis and giving birth to Horus.
  • Silence Is Golden: There is absolutely no dialog. You can hear some occasional noises.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The film opens with God committing suicide.
  • Surreal Horror: Begins with God (represented as a being with a Ghostly Gape) committing suicide by disembowelment and Mother Earth impregnating herself with his corpse’s semen, ends with a double murder of another Earth and the Son of Earth by the masked nomads, no dialogue whatsoever, and the entire thing is a bizarre retelling of the Book of Genesis.