A New Matthew Barney Film Retells an Ancient Myth in the American Wilds

Artist Matthew Barney returns to film this fall with his new feature Redoubt. It’s smaller in scale than the cinematic work for which he’s most known, such as the five-part Cremaster Cycle or the six-hour River of Fundament, but no less ambitious. This film retells Ovid’s story of Diana and Actaeon through dance, set against the backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Diana, the Roman version of Artemis, goddess of the hunt and nature, is reimagined with modern camo garb and weaponry, and played by a real-life sharpshooter.

Hyperallergic has the exclusive premiere of the theatrical trailer for the film, which shows off its hypnotic use of location and movement. Barney and choreographer Eleanor Bauer stage movement on multiple planes, with characters not merely dancing around elements of the wilderness but scaling trees and cliffs, incorporating aerials into their communion with nature. It features modern dance brought off the stage out into blistering cold, with unearthly movement grounded in the tactility of the real forests and mountains. The idea of “the hunt” in this context, with modern concerns about firearms and the reintroduction of wolves to regions where they had previously been extirpated, reframes this ancient myth in compelling ways. The poster even suggests a link between the idea of America and the gun itself merely by rotating the shape of Idaho a bit. That is, if nothing else, quite the novel spin on Ovid.

Poster for Redoubt (courtesy Film Forum)

Redoubt will begin a two-week run at Film Forum (209 West Houston Street, Manhattan) on 10/30.

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