The Genesis Children
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|The Genesis Children|
|Directed by||Anthony Aikman|
|Produced by||Billy Byars, Jr.|
|Written by||Anthony Aikman |
Billy Byars, Jr.
|Starring||Vincent Child |
|Narrated by||Jeremy Hoenack|
|Music by||Jerry Styner|
|Edited by||Jeremy Hoenack|
The movie premiered in August 1972 in Los Angeles, but was withdrawn within a few weeks because of lacking public acceptance. Although it was called "very benign" by the US rating administration, it received an X rating. It remained controversial ever since, due to some lengthy full nudity scenes of teenage and preteen boys.
The plot of the movie is non-chronological, as it attempts to mimick the spontaneity of juvenile thinking, and thus at first sight may appear convoluted and rather loose.
The story is about eight students of an International School in Rome, who follow a want ad placed by some mysterious man: 'Wanted: boys to act in a play, to be performed before God.' This leads them to a splendid cove at the Palinuro natural arch in southern Italy, where in the beginning they appear overwhelmed by a sensation of paradisiacal ease and freedom. In this initial stage, most of the nudity scenes appear (about six minutes, distributed over the first half hour). No sexual innuendos are involved; rather, these scenes are presented as a sort of dream-like 'sacred dance' (see below). In the course of the following days, as problems come up, clothing is more and more restored, and finally the group divides, with five of the boys abandoning their play and three of them staying.
In the course of the 'play', the boys adventure into diverse, sometimes bizarre, actions, to overcome growing 'boredom, hunger and homesickness' (as their problems are diagnosed by one of them) and also fear.
Religion in the filmEdit
As to judge from some of the books he has written, author and director Anthony Aikman (1942-2011) appears to have been a deeply religious person, albeit not in the sense of a specific religious denomination. Apart from the text of the ad, also the very last sentences of the film expose it as a religious parable: 'Your play before God is completed.' − 'In the beginning there was God, but then man created God in his own image.' The 'sacred dance' scenes can evoke allusions to Psalm 126. In addition, here and only here the music switches to church music of various origins (plainsong, church bells, Russian orthodox). Less directly, the religious character is also evidenced by the themes of fear, confidence and coming home, which play an important role.
Nakedness in the filmEdit
The nudity scenes sum up to about an eighth of the length of the movie. The 'sacred dance' scenes of the beginning of their 'play' make extensive use of slow-motion and cross-fading (presumably as a means of demonstrating a mental state of feeling relieved instead of a development or action), by which nakedness is often blurred. Inspecting the film shows that the 'closeup shots of the pelvic area' put forward by the rating administration do not exist in a strict sense: bringing the pelvic area into picture is not fully avoided, yet never centered, never really closeup, but always casually.
Third part of a trilogyEdit
Most helpful for understanding the film, may be looking upon it as the third part of a trilogy in the following sense. On Aikman's own homepage  (apparently no longer maintained, but still available) there is noted 'often compared to Lord of the Flies', and in fact, the movie contains lots of allusions, mostly formal, to this work. This other classic, filmed after the famous novel by William Golding just 10 years before The Genesis Children, refers in turn quite explicitly to the R. M. Ballantyne novel The Coral Island, from the mid-19th century. In all three cases, the theme is the acting of a group of (male) kids, left alone on some island or shore (i.e. deprived of a direct civilized environment, and set out in a purely natural setting), with an undertone of investigating where evil comes from or how it is overcome. But while in Ballantyne's novel, the point of view is clearly optimistic in the colonial sense common in the 19th century ('obsessed with the purity of God, Trade and the Nation, and written for the future rulers of the world', The Coral Island), Golding decidedly destroys the optimistic world-view of a self-proclaimed master-race. In his story, which - like that of Ballantyne - still features dominance, struggle and victory or defeat, these impulses (combined with a constantly failing communication) do not create an ever growing sphere of ordered civilisation, but lead into complete destruction within the shortest possible time. Here, Aikman's film appears as a response to Golding's 'solution', with the purpose of featuring less crude impulses than dominance or struggle and victory. There is never aggression in the sense of struggling for dominance between these children. In sharp contrast to Goldings kids, whose first common acting consists in choosing a 'chief', the Genesis Children practise at least for the first half of their story a fully cooperative way of living with astonishing ease and great naturalness. It appears that Aikman wants to show that this way of living is endangered in the first place in a more subtle way − 'boredom, hunger and homesickness were our enemies, and that's why we started to argue.' Instead of aggression, it is a feeling of futility with regard to the quest for 'home' (which of course, like hunger, also touches the spiritual sphere) by some of the boys, which finally divides the group. Here comes what may be seen as the central sentence of the film: 'Aren't you going home?' asks one of those who are about to leave the place and the play. 'I am home', replies his friend who is going to stay.
The MPAA film classification database lists an X rating for the film. Aaron Stern, director of MPAA's code and rating administration stated 'The Genesis Children is really a very benign film. It was only the cumulative amount of nudity and the closeup shots of the pelvic area that brought about the X decision. Even the violence of the scene in which the boys attack the bus is well within the R category.'
- eg. The Black Swan, The Divine Spark -- see Aikman's website
- Comment on IMDb page
- MPAA ratings database search on main page
- Swisher, Viola Hegyi: "Generating The Genesis Children", After Dark, September 1972, p. 18