Film: Decasia

The title Decasia is a play on decay and Fantasia. The allusion to the Disney film indicates a more straightforward narrative than you’ll find. The movie is made of deteriorated film clips from silent era films and newsclips. Filmmaker Bill Morrison edits them together and holds them in place with a detuned score. Nitrate film deteriorates in fascinating ways, and the juxtaposition of these scenes invites comparisons beyond the content of the original scenes. The decay itself is another layer of comparison: The text of the scenes, the decay of the world represented in those scenes, and the decay of the medium itself. People seem to decay in the most disturbing way. Sometimes a ghost, or a wraith. Was that a klan rally, or did I invent that? Decasia invites you to bring your own imagery to fill in the gaps. In his introduction to the film, Bill Morrison remarked that the Sundance premiere is touted as groundbreaking. His remembrance is that tickets to the film were easy to come by at the festival, and most people walk out before the 67 minute running time. Still, it found its small and dedicated following, and 20 years on continues to find more.