The film is an arrangement of classical music, literature, and paintings, as a sequence of classical music videos.
Written By: Timothy J. Armstrong
Directed By: Timothy J. Armstrong
To say this was an "unusual title" would probably be the two words many viewers will probably agree on most. Not because I use the word "unusual" as any kind of slander, rather because it's so different no other way exists to describe it. On the surface, although presented as a film, "A Dionysia" is more akin to a classical audio playlist, that uses artwork to justify it's existence in video form. Most of us have seen this before as we scour the web looking for our favorite tunes, both modern and old-school. But wait! I did write "on the surface" didn't I? You see reader, that's the catch. As much as I would simply like to write "A Dionysia" is a classical audio mix and not a film, it's not that simple. You see, the images and poetic inserts are meant to compliment the orchestrated backing, much like an actual music video only about 56 minutes longer. You'll find yourself examining the possible connection of the music, images and yes, if you choose... even the poetry read aloud for your listening pleasure. "A Dionysia" is in fact, a film produced to entertain both your eyes and ears. It's not going to be for everyone however. A person is either going to love this, and watch through it... maybe even download or bookmark; or they won't last five minutes before shifting onto something new. Not much middle ground exists here, you'll either love it or hate it.
The Cadillac of visualized music or just another experimental flop? That's essentially what I was asked to interpret. Since the tastes of individuals are all completely unique when it comes to this type of thing, I'm left with no base-line to compare. Film lovers can at times be placed into specific categories. Horror lovers, action, comedy- you get the idea. Same for music. Country, rock and so on. "A Dionysia" is more specialized in both content and visual styling; making this write-up much more difficult.
I truly enjoyed my first run-through. I chose the non-narrated version. At first I found myself watching and reading the passages, then I simply drifted off completely relaxed... and listened. Every now and then I would come back to my screen and watch some of the paintings, mentally comparing what I was seeing to what I was hearing. It was nice. However, being completely honest, the visuals when I looked up were a great compliment to the audio... but most of my time was spent starring blankly at the things in my room. A few times I even surfed around the net and checked my messages, you get the idea. As an audio background "A Dionysia" was just what I expected. Relaxing. As I wrote above, having inspiring images to look at when I "did" look up was a great compliment. But they were secondary.
My second pass through the film with the narration intact was not nearly as pleasing as watching without. I watched it in three sessions. It's hard to say why. The art is still present, in the same places and the narrative is good. I just found that it came down to one main issue. Being "forced" to watch my screen straight through, waiting for the narrator to recite the passages. It simply took away from my initial experience. Nothing was bad about the narration, It just became more of a task that needed to be done rather than something done for pure pleasure. Having to keep my mind in the "ready" for an hour, not allowing myself to drift was just really hard. With the narration, I felt I had to keep my eyes and mind on the screen. In my humble opinion... the narrated version is simply much to long for one sitting. Broken up into segments, as the film is didn't help at all because I wanted to watch as a full piece. They did make it easier to take breaks though. As I wrote above, it wasn't that I liked the first one more because the narration was bad... it was simply because forcing myself to remain active, as I listen to the beautiful sounds of the music seemed counter-intuitive.
In the end, "A Dionysia" is an excellent piece of art in itself. I personally would prefer to listen and relax, having the visual aspects in place for when I do decide to look up. That's a personal choice though. The narrated version was great in smaller doses, allowing the viewer to really get into the world Timothy J. Armstrong has pieced together. Taking it all in was a great added layer to have and it was nice to get that option... just felt a little long. Still, overall with both versions this was a piece I would/will watch again. Will you like it? Hard to say. Why not give it a chance and find out.
Other Reviews That May Interest You