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also known as The Living Gods of Haiti

Divine Horsemen1985

  • 4.2
In 1946, Maya Deren was the first filmmaker ever awarded an artistic Guggenheim grant. With the $3,000 prize money, she traveled to Haiti, a country she would visit four times and where she would spend a total of nearly two years. Deren was the first known white woman to became a high priestess of Haitian Voodoun, a religion she would continue to practice even after her return to New York's East Village. Deren captured breathtaking footage of Hatian songs, dances and religious rituals that had never previously been recorded on film, in still photographs or as audio. The hypnotic material shown here is a testament to Deren's remarkable skill as a cinematographer, sound recordist, documentarian and anthropologist. Rather than create a film, her voyages to Haiti became a book, DIVINE HORSEMEN: THE LIVING GODS OF HAITI, which was published in 1952. Deren died at the age of 44, before she could edit her recordings from Haiti. Her third husband, the musician Teiji Ito, and his wife compiled some of Deren's raw footage from the trip in 1959, this remarkable work offers a glimpse of what Deren once saw. - Livia Bloom

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Official selection of the 1993 Black International Cinema Film Festival in Berlin.


1 member likes this review

Amazing!

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Member Reviews (5)

Amazing!

1 member likes this review

Overall, it was a very interesting and informative documentary that really

showed the intermingling of paganism, Christianity, the slave trade, local

superstition, and custom. These all meld together to produce this interesting

thing called "voodoo".

My only critique would be that there doesn't seem to

be a beginning or an end. You feel like you're coming into the middle of the

story, and it ends somewhat abruptly. If you're queasy, take note that it

does show animal sacrifice and possession.

The film mostly documents actual rituals and shows the imagery used by the priests and priestesses. There are a lot of drums and a lot of dancing. The film culminates in an almost mardi gras / pagan type festival.

1 member likes this review

Hypnotizing and beautiful.

rare and wonderful look at Voudon beliefs in Haiti, also a celebration of the culture and dance, the Carnaval shots at the end are worth it alone, like a Jodoworsky film, highly reccommended....

This is a documentary about voodoo rituals in Haiti. Spiritual possession is the basis for these rituals. However, there's also a lot of dancing and music--especially drums. This is the first time I've actually seen real animal sacrifices. I felt a little uncomfortable when they blended Catholic imagery such as Mother Mary into their pagan rituals.

It's done in documentary style. The narrator is clear and strong. The video is pretty old, but the sound was very clear and understandable.

I wouldn't watch this film for entertainment value, but if you want a first hand peek at their culture, you can't beat it.