• Born Of Fire (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: October 27th, 28, 2009.
    Director: Jamil Dehlavi
    Cast: Peter Firth, Suzan Crowley, Stefan Kalipha, Oh-Tee, Nabil Shaban, Jean Ainslie
    Year: 1986
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    Born Of Fire – Movie Review:

    Lumped in with the wave of horror films that emerged in the 1980s, Jamil Dehlavi’s Born Of Fire has more in common with The Holy Mountain or I Will Walk Like A Crazy Horse than it does Friday The 13th or any other eighties horror picture you’d care to name. There are certain genre trappings here, but this is far closer to a fantasy picture than anything else.

    When the film begins, the Earth is being affected in strange ways by some bizarre solar activity which manifests most intensely with an eerie solar eclipse. A female astronomer (Suzan Crowley) studies the activity and shares her findings with a musician named Paul (Peter Firth). Paul’s got his own problems, however, as he’s the victim of a string of vivid nightmares that may or may not stem back to his childhood and the issues he has with the father he never knew. Paul’s father died before he was born, though the circumstances around his death are strange to say the least – it seems he was involved in a mystical quest to find a being known only as The Master Musician (Oh-Tee).

    Our nameless astronomer figures that Paul’s nightmares are related to the solar activity and the two wind up heading to Turkey to try and find the Master Musician and piece together the puzzle of his father’s passing.

    Calling Born Of Fire a strange film would be a Hell of an understatement, but beneath all of the oddities, surrealist meanderings and religious symbolism is a reasonably simple story off of which all of this is hung. Filled with bizarre imagery – at one point our astronomer rapes Paul only to give birth to an insect – and Islamic allegory, the film is stunning to watch and beautifully shot. The closest point of comparison would have to be Alejandro Jodorowsky, particularly in how he and Dehlavi use real flesh and blood ‘freaks’ in their films, but this is very definitely its own animal even if Jodorowsky’s influence is a strong one. Again, like Jodorowsky’s work, Born Of Fire also toys with the themes of occultism and magic, this time involving a more Middle Eastern slant what with its use of Djinns and Shaytans and related imagery. Given that Jamil Dehlavi is of both European and Pakistani descent, it stands to reason that maybe he’s pulling from his own upbringing here.

    The excellent camerawork, which does a great job of capturing the unique Turkish locations used in the picture, is complimented perfectly and at times very subtlety by Colin Town’s score. There are moments where the film feels a little over explained in spots, as often after a strange experience is shown it is then discussed when maybe it would have been more interesting had it been left open to interpretation, but that issue aside this is a fascinating film and one that is absolutely worth seeking out for cult movie fans, particularly those with an interest in Arabian mythology or eastern mysticism.

    Born Of Fire – DVD Review:

    Born Of Fire looks great by the standards of a 2009 DVD release in this 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors in particular are nice and strong and very well defined without ever looking overcooked or blotchy. Black levels are pretty decent and there isn’t much print damage at all to note, while detail levels are also quite good. There aren’t any obvious problems with mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note and overall this was a very strong effort on the part of Mondo Macabro.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track on this disc is pretty solid. Dialogue is always easy to understand while the levels remain properly balanced throughout. There aren’t any problems with background hiss or distortion to note and generally things sound very good here.

    The most substantial extras on this disc are the three interviews that have been included, the first of which is a fifteen-minute talk with director/co-writer Jamil Dehlavi who discusses writing and putting together this project, the significance of some of its more unusual moments and how he feels about the film. Actor Peter Firth talks for twelve-minutes about his work on the film and his career in general as well as his admiration for Dehlavi, while Nabil Shaban spends over thirty-one-minutes discussing his work here and one various other projects. If, after you watch the film, you find yourself craving some enlightenment (which would be perfectly understandable!), this is the place to come and get just that.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original theatrical trailer, text biographies for the principal cast and crew members, an essay on the history and significance of the film, the Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection.

    Born Of Fire - The Final Word:

    A startling work of surrealism with tinges of macabre horror, Born Of Fire receives an excellent DVD debut from Mondo Macabro, sporting a fine transfer and some interesting bonus features.