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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Review: GENERAL ORDERS No. 9


Robert Persons’ General Orders No. 9 is an essay film at least partly about the urbanization of rural Georgia, reminiscent of Patrick Keiller’s lovingly dyspeptic but visually striking London and Robinson in Space or Terence Davies’ brooding memory musical Distant Voices, Still Lives. It’s more in that school than Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, the convenient reference point in some reviews of its New York week-long run. (The free-floating character of the narration doesn’t distill itself to the many voices of so-similar inchoate spiritual yearning in the Malick film.) Haunted beauty, a majestic trance: it’s deeply invested in what Greil Marcus called “old, weird America.” Daniel James Scott interviews Persons at Filmmaker. Of overt influences, he tells Scott, “Gosh, I’m sort of all over the place. But there were certainly a lot of films that we used to reference—a lot of Tarkovsky films, Herzog films, Chris Marker, John Grierson docs, the British Film Unit, David Lynch and Harry [Everett] Smith. There were also a number of novels and books. One in particular was this bit of naturalist writing from the 18th century, William Bartram’s Travels. He was a Philadelphia naturalist who travelled through the southeast and was really the first to write about it while drawing pictures of plants and animals. His writing is very effusive, and has a lot of sense of wonder in it. I liked the idea of someone going around recording things. And I saw my film as an updating of that in a sense.”



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