Projections - Movie Reviews

Burning Man

Burning Man

Alex Nohe's Burning Man is getting attention in the university circuit and some larger urban alternative movie houses and its lure is a Darwinian spin on Woodstock as organizer Larry Harvey (its co-founder some fifteen years ago) explains the commitment needed to make the trek to the Black Rock Desert.  This "temporary" city visited by thousands around every Labor Day has become the sixth largest in Nevada.

The path to Burning Man leads to a new culture, it's not for spectators, only participants as a festival of sorts that is pretty spontaneous and attractive to the postmodern crowd who likes roughing it in a fairly unknown, unsafe environment.

At the conclusion of Burning Man what will happen is a massive tribal celebration that dwarfs the gatherings on CBS's "Survivor" series.  A fifty foot high neon-lit wooden effigy is ignited and the appearance resembles the figures seen in the Maryland forest for the controversial documentary The Blair Witch Project.

While there are intriguing aspects of this artistically-inclined new wave celebration, it's more of an exhibit with plenty of catchy sights but entertainingly as barren as the remote location.

Ultimately, Nohe isn't sensationalizing how ordinary people can realize a radical self-awareness in a retreat from commercialization and Western consumerism.  It may be a diverting showcase of rebelliousness rarely seen on the big screen and the film maker shows much aplomb with the camera work.  Yet, for all of its independent expressionistic attempts, Burning Man doesn't make its spectators as enlightened to a fiery open forum which has outrageously reawakened more than its share of spirited followers looking for an unconstrained togetherness.

Burning Man

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