The Septemberists

The Septemberists is a thirty minute black and white film that chronicles the preparations and processes associated with traditional religious ceremonies. A group of boys harvests materials in a dream-like landscape in order to construct the clothing and elements necessary to enact a series of semi-sacrificial rites of passage. Taking inspiration from Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," the musical score becomes a substitute for dialogue. Each group of boys functions as a pack of mute workers accompanied only by the sound of their designated musical instruments. Set on a farm reminiscent of an old southern plantation, the characters appear almost like a refined tribe or community living an existence removed from society; half military academy, half monastery. Like cloned worker bees, each group moves in silent, pre-choreographed unison, carrying out their individually assigned tasks. As one group herds and sheers sheep, another picks cotton growing in a steam filled greenhouse, while still a third group meets at a moonlit marsh to catch octopi and harvest their ink sacks.

Done in collaboration with designer Thom Browne, the ritualistic preparations, dress and customary uniforms associated with different, traditional, western, ceremonial rites shifts the focus from the macro to the micro. Gathering the raw ingredients and materials to create uniform garments and dawning the vestiges of tradition becomes a ritualistic ceremony in itself. Each memberís assigned station or role is designated by the built in hierarchical dress code attributed to each costume and its association with each custom. In the final scenes, a first communion, wedding and funeral blend together and culminate as a make shift wooden coffin is rowed down stream and crosses paths with a baptismal ceremony. Traditional rituals such as matrimony, baptism and funeral rites merge together in mystical outdoor settings to create new, dream-like hybridizations of seemingly recognizable, established, western customs.