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14 customer reviews

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(Aug 01, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This film goes behind the scenes at Burning Man - exploring the philosophy that fuels it, the tireless efforts that drive it, and the transcendent experience that makes it a worldwide cultural force. Beyond Black Rock is the first documentary to fully chronicle the planning and preparation required to conduct the Burning Man festival on an annual basis, and how this commitment serves as a binding force for a world-wide, year-round community. This film features key members of the organization and profiles the various departments involved producing the event. It also follows several artists as they take their projects from concept to completion, exploring the unique philosophy of "temporary art" and the significant hurdles in creating, transporting and sharing the hundreds of art projects that adorn the playa and contribute to the cultural tapestry of Black Rock City. This double-sided DVD has a 106 minute main feature and another 2 hours of additional material, including extended interviews, outtakes and deleted scenes, all of which provide a large body of detail and information. Scholars, researchers and burners around the world will find Beyond Black Rock the most comprehensive coverage of Burning Man to date.

Depending on one's point of view, the event detailed in Burning Man - Beyond Black Rock is either a magnificent, life-transforming experience or an excuse for a bunch of drug-ridden oddballs to broast their dust-coated, scantily- (or un-)clad bodies on a scorching, inhospitable expanse of terrain in the middle of the Nevada nowhere. Given that this two-sided, extra-laden disc is proffered as an "official documentary," no one should be surprised that it embraces the former opinion. As director Damon Brown's film shows us, Burning Man (so named for the giant wooden sculpture that's set on fire on the final night) is not a concert, although there's plenty of music; it's not an exhibit, although there are many, many artists and a dizzying array of their works on hand; and it's not a festival, although a good time appears to be had by almost all. Above all, Burning Man is a phenomenon, as for one week every summer the Black Rock Desert becomes the fifth largest city in the state, home to well over 30,000 folks who create what some call "another reality." None of this happens without a good deal of work. As the film chronicles the preparations for the 2003 event, we see that an enormous amount of technical and logistical details are involved, including laying out the roads and boundaries of the "city," bringing in electrical power, dealing with local regulations (among which is the mandate that with the possible exception of a few footprints, every piece of evidence that Burning Man was ever there must be erased when it's over), and other infrastructural particulars. We meet some of the three thousand employees who labor year-round to keep it going (including founder-director Larry Harvey, who staged the first Burning Man for about 250 people in 1990), as well as a few of the participating artists ("temple builder" David Best designs an enormous structure every single year), and, of course, many of the participants. We visit "theme camps" and art installations, witness various amusements and ingenious contraptions, and listen to folks trying to explain not only what Burning Man is but what it means. Hours of bonus material (outtakes, extended interviews, deleted scenes, etc.) will help you draw your own conclusions. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Bonus short film Preacher With an Unknown God
  • Deleted scenes
  • Extended Interviews
  • Outtakes

Product Details

  • Actors: n, a
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: ATLANTIC
  • DVD Release Date: August 1, 2006
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GDI23I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,826 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "BURNING MAN - BEYOND BLACK ROCK" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Steckel on December 7, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I rented this film on Saturday, September 2, 2006. At the time, I knew little about the event, except that at the very same moment I was sitting on my living room sofa with a bag of microwave popcorn, 35,000 slightly-nutty people were somewhere out in the desert setting fire to all sorts of strange objects, the biggest of which was shaped like you and me. I just thought to myself, "What better a day could there be to get more acquainted with the subject?"

From the moment the credits rolled on this the documentary, there was really no turning back. That very night, I promised myself that I would join in this unique experience the very next chance I got. I've since showed it to a few other friends, and they too have fallen under the spell.

As for the documentary itself, it does an excellent job at showing just what goes into making the event happen. I got a real appreciation for the staggering amount of work involved, and the zealot-like devotion it inspires in both its staff and its participants - the line between which is thin and blurred by definition, as everyone who goes is expected to do something to help create the experience. I found their passion infectious. As they described the impact it had on their lives, how it changed them as people, I was left pondering what kind of fascinating ways might Burning Man one day change me?

Of course, it did not make me feel "just like I was there." On the contrary, it fully convinced me that even the best film on this subject could never replace the experience itself, and that if I wanted to truly know Burning Man, I had to go. Some might count that as a weakness of the film, but not I.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By catomegirl on November 14, 2006
Format: DVD
I received this DVD as a gift from a "Burner" friend who wanted me to learn about Burning Man...having never been to Burning Man... only hearing the rumors...I was pretty sure I would hate it...I wasn't looking forward to watching a bunch of naked, drunk, people in the desert...not my idea of creative freedom...much to my surprise, I loved it...what an eye-opener...sure there were some naked oddballs, but the sense of community, the artistry, the passion was really captured in this doc...really worth watching...might even make the unsuspecting viewer want to take a trek out to the desert!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Marion on November 5, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
best info on subject ever found..history/chronology narration much appreciated. teenage recipient of this gift dvd expressed gratitude for learning abt. "Burning Man" - subject of which he was completely unaware.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 2, 2012
Format: DVD
The film will never be the definitive Burning Man documentary. Too bad its one-dimensional focus on five or six individuals who plan and organize each year's event. With little storytelling and lots of unedited ramblings by the founder and some project managers, the best that can be hoped for is that portions of this movie might get excerpted into maybe twenty minutes of needed mundane details about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at the festival. But as a two-hour-plus movie, there is precious little to evoke in viewers the kind of emotional intensity that brings so many tens of thousands of people to Black Rock Desert to experience the magic of Burning Man.

The film fails in two specific ways. First, the interviews focus almost exclusively on five or six of the main organizers and a couple of the artist-contributors. None of these people actually have that much to say that could not have been finished in two or three minutes. These probably-wonderful people are transformed by this movie into mere talking heads who spend an awful awful AWFUL lot of time laughing at their own jokes as they rave about their "passion" for Burning Man.

Virtually every scene in the first half hour fails to hint at any story, fails to incite the viewer to wonder, "and then what happened?" And where are the paying attendees, who need to be asked Why did you come, What are you doing at this moment, and How has Burning Man has affected your life? Precious little film is focused at any length on their actual faces and bodies, or their individual artistic creations. So it's hard to identify with those who attend.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Disch on December 13, 2006
Format: DVD
Just like there is a "For Dummies/for Idiots" book on just about every topic under the sun, the DVD could be subtitled this for those interested in learning more about the Burning Man experience. As a two-time burner who's happily going back to the Playa every chance he gets, this movie is special in that it's great on many levels.

First off, it's an incredible introduction for those who have never heard of or gone to Burning Man. As with all attendees, you realize there are so many people in your life who would enjoy and benefit from at least one trip our to the Playa that you can't help but want to share. Yet all your words, pictures and the website really don't even seem to capture what it is you feel and want to express. The DVD shows that in so many ways. From the personal stories it follow throughout the film to the nuts and bolts of how Black Rock City come into being each year. My best friend and I are using the DVD as a promotional tool for some of our friends who have been on the fence about going for a while.

Which brings me to the second major point of greatness for the film, it's ability to educate and inspire even those who consider themselves veterans of the Playa. Seeing what other people go through to make the event happen can inspire more volunteerism. Hearing the stories of joy, pain and creation is inspiring to making you want to add your own art/theme camp to the city. And then just plain watching the party energizes you to get off your butt and start planning RIGHT NOW (whenever now is) for the next burn. You feel the Playa. You taste the dust.

All in all, Burning Man is a life changing experience that if you're interested enough to check out this DVD, you should attend at least once. I think viewing the DVD will give you that swift kick in the butt to actually do it and arm you with just a bit of knowledge about where it all comes from and what you might expect from your visit to the Playa.

Welcome Home!
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