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Where Does A Body End? - Where Does A Body End?(Blu Ray) [MVD Visual - 2020]

Where Does A Body End? is a documentary that covers the history of  Swans- a band who have always rather darted though & blended genres, with the only true/simple description of their sound been emotional intensity. Here on MVD Visual is a deluxe double Blu ray release of the film- bringing together an extended cut of the doc, and a disc full of cut/ extra scenes- with each disc having a playtime that hits around the two hours  & forty-minute mark.

The set is presented in a nice classy black mat digipak, with black on black glossy ink printing on the inside, and a fold-out colour inlay that rather mimics similar ones you find in Swans albums- so it nicely fits in with the band's releases.

Where Does A Body End? is a 2019 film- it was directed by Marco Porsi, and this is his first  feature length film. Heís more known as an editor, starting his career cutting videos for the likes The Wedding Present & Angels of Light,  moving on in the early 2000ís to US TV shows with to date thirty credits to his name in a fairly short time. And you can certainly see from Where Does A Body End? this editing & music video background- as the cutting often rapidly shifts back & forth to live performance footage- which at points does become a little overbearing to the flow/ structure of the doc. Iíd say the cut we have here, which is the extended cut, is very much a film of two parts- with the first half, which details the band from their beginnings initial break up, been the most focused/ interesting. And the second half- which is a rather wondering summing-up of their latter career- and at times this part did rather test one's patience.

The film kicks off with a summing up of the band's importance from various talking heads, interspersed with interview footage of the band's key songwriter/ focus Micheal Gira. As we move on we start to move into the historic flow of the bands pre-history/ history- going from Giraís troubled youth, moving onto his art college days in New York, onto the forming of the first version of the band. Early on we get the most fascinating interviews with ex Sonic Youth members Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo- who knew the Swans in the early days, as well as practising together & later touring. The Swans sonic story moves from its blunt & brutally discordant beginnings, which where influenced by 80ís NYC and Giraís bleak existence in the city. Moving onto the introduction of key contributor Jarobe- who help to change and develop the bands sound. Over the first one hour & twenty of the doc, each of the ten albums of the original run of the band is covered in good detail, with discussing with Gira & other key players fill in the background nicely. We also get largely worthy input from music journalists/ musicians that lived through this first run of the band- blended in with concept footage, that in this half of the doc is largely well placed/ not overlong.

At the halfway point we move into the bands break-up & winding down, before very briefly touching on Giraís in-between band The Angles Of Light. Then for the remaining hour & ten minutes of the doc, we get a blend of non-chronologically concert footage from the bands second run, talking heads on how important the band is, and rather short snippets of interviews with band members. The structure/ flow of the first half is seemingly forgotten, with the four albums the band recorded between 2010 & 2016  rather been lumped as sonically flowing together- which I think is rather lazy & a more than a tad unfair. This second half just seemed to drag on & on, feeling very bloated & lack narrative shape/ flow- with me at points checking how much longer there was left. This version of the film is called the extended cut- but when I look on IMDB, this seems the only version of the film. If there is a shorter cut it would be great to see it, as the first half is so engaging & interesting- it just rather let down by the flabby second half- so this is most certainly a documentary of two halves.

The second disc takes in one hundred and fifty-six worth of cut scenes. These can either be watched in one lot , or split into forty-two separate scenes. These each run between a few to eleven or so minutes- though they are mostly fairly short. They begin discussing one of the bands seemingly lost members a female guitar player who just disappeared, and finishes with a collection of unused talking head interviews. Itís certainly worth having a look at this second disc, as there some interesting/worthy stuff here.


Having followed the Swans since the mid-1990ís I was of course extremely keen to see Where Does A Body End?, and on the whole, Iíll say itís a largely worthy & well put together venture- itís just a pity it couldnít have been streamlined better, with more depth/ weight put into the band's second phase. Certainly, if youíre a fan of the band you need to see this, and Iíd say this  two-disc version is the one to get- as you get some much extra content & a classy package presentation

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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