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Divine Horsemen - The Living Gods of Haiti 1993

NR

The Living Gods of Haiti is a documentary film about dance and possession in Haitian vodou that was shot by experimental filmmaker Maya Deren between 1947 and 1952 and edited and completed by Deren's third husband Teiji Ito and his wife Cherel.

Starring:
John Genke, Joan Pape
Runtime:
50 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Maya Deren, Cherel Ito, Teiji Ito
Starring John Genke, Joan Pape
Studio GoDigital Media Group
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
"Divine Horsemen" is the name of Maya Deren's monograph published in 1953, an account of the cosmology of Voudoun. The title was used by Teiji ( Maya's husband at the time of her death) and Cherel Ito in their assembled film made from Deren's footage ( Deren by the way was born in Kiev in 1917 but lived in the USA from 1922 to her death in 1961). One of her largest frustrations was her inability to edit 20.000 feet of footage she shot in 1947, and 1949, 1954. This was primarily due to lack of funding and support from orthodox anthropologists where she was considered an encroacher on their revered territory. In a sense the Ito's did editorial work for her after her death but it is important to recognize that this is not Deren's. One does get a sense of her work with this video and what she tried to accomplish. The voice overs and animation are all the work of the Ito's-- Deren's own film was to use the sound she recorded in the field in Haiti and which she released as an album "The Voices of Haiti". The original footage is to be found at Anthology Film Archives in New York. This film shows the brilliance of Deren's use of choreocinema in filming where she tried to respect the ceremonial logic of this beautiful religion.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
`Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti' is an incredible visual document chronicling authentic Haitian Voundoun practices as they've never been viewed by the public-at-large before. Filmed between '47 and '51 by the legendary cult filmmaker and author Maya Deren who was an initiate into these religious practices, her involvement made it possible for her to gain access into its most intimate circles and record songs, rituals and festivals long hidden from the eyes of the unbeliever. The documentary is extraordinary in every way and of immense educational value to anyone in the fields of; comparative religions, anthropology, ethnology, musicology or psychology. 'Divine Horsemen' covers almost every conceivable aspect of the Voundoun experience:

1- Foundational beliefs and the background from which they sprang.
2- Clear explanations of the three Voundoun cults; (Rada, Petro and Congo), their origins and the differences in their practices.
3- Voundoun cosmology, the Deities and their hierarchical positioning.
4- Discussion of the various symbols and signets used to express Voudoun concepts and the different engeries to be released the by Gods.
5- A close up and personal viewing of the rituals, festivals and songs utilized by the various cults to call upon the Deities and the process of possession.
6- Explanations of the various roles acted out by the practitioners and their societal standing.

`Divine Horsemen' is only 52 minutes in length but it packs a lot of information into its allotted time. Definitely not geared for an evening with the family, but certainly an undiscovered gem for those chosen few with an open mind and a receptive heart.

One of the essentials to any library dealing with the realm of the mystical. My Rating: -5 Stars-.
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Format: VHS Tape
This documentary was produced in the 1950s by Maya Deren, experimental film maker, anthropologist and voodoo initiate. The film consists of a display of sigils for a particular loa and footage of voodoo initiates in rites appropriate to that loa. Many of the worshippers appear to be possessed and the effect is very moving. Maya Deren, though herself European, was an initiate of Voodoo allowing her unprecedented access to this still poorly understood religion. To my knowledge, no other film presents actual Voodoo rituals in such an open, reverential way. A book of the same title is also available.
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Format: VHS Tape
A fan of Maya Deren's other films (At Land, Meshes of the Afternoon, etc.), I had hoped to find the same feel in this one. These earlier films (particularly Ritual in Transfigured Time and Meditation on Violence) had a definite rhythm and a strong relationship to dance (and choreography). Since Deren went to Haiti to study dance, among other things, I assumed that I would see an - perhaps the ultimate - expression of her homage to movement. While the footage is good and the film stands as an excellent early (?) exercise in documentary, Deren's touch is missing, unfortunately. Bear in mind that this film was put together posthumously by Deren's third husband Teiji Ito and his wife. Thus, the film is somewhat collaborative, showing the benefit of Deren's eye, but not her editing. While it is an interesting film, if you are a Deren fan then I would suggest viewing it as a collaborative film, or perhaps an Ito film, rather than a Deren film.

One more side note, if you are upset seeing animals being slaughtered, there are a few scenes (relatively close together) where chickens, a goat, and a steer are mutilated and killed. Nothing too brutal, but still harsh enough.
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Format: VHS Tape
Often in the media, especially Hollywood, Voodoo is given a bad name. The people that conjure up these images have never experience being in another country or even do research on that particular subject. They get their information from people who are just as ignorant as they are.
About ten years ago I saw this film at the Smithsonian and was fascinated by the culture of Haiti. Haiti is negatively portrayed because they are connected to their African ancestry and being the first black nation to declare their independence from France, they have endured ignorance and cruelty from the outside world. Deren, being of Russian descent, visits the country knowing the people and their religious beliefs. The people of Haiti are connected to the spirit and nature, like their African ancestors. Although her life was cut short, this film is a classical documentary of Caribbean history and the black diaspora.
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