What's It All About?
OK, another God Game (Nobody's Army) is up so it's about time I reintroduced anyone out there to the concepts behind it - what exactly IS this God Game thing anyway?
What follows is the original God Game Treatment. This was back when I intended to make a feature film, with 24 different "subjects" all woven together. That didn't happen, because the project took an unexpected turn (more on which anon), and instead I wound up with 6 separate episodes, featuring 6 of the chosen individuals, each one 24 minutes long (except Nobody's, which is 32 mins). So here's how I initially concieved it.
“God doesn’t play dice with the universe. He just plays hide and seek.”
—Woody Allen, Husbands and Wives
The God Game is a sui generis work, that is, a genre unto itself. I call it “surrealist documentary,” a documentary on the fantasy we call life. The objective is to assemble a fantasy feature film from documentary footage, to get the actors to write the script, as it were, and then to assemble the plot in the editing room. Of course the themes will take precedence over the narrative, as in any documentary, but the form and flow of the film will be closer in feel to Buñuel than Mike Leigh. Imagine a cross between The Thin Blue Line and The Matrix, a work of cinema verité about the illusory nature of reality.
Twenty-four humans of all ages and backgrounds have been recruited. Each one will be interviewed intensively for a single day, and talk about his or her beliefs, philosophy, life experiences, dreams, goals, and views on society and religion and “the greater picture.” They will undergo imaginative exercises by which they can recreate themselves in specific ways, i.e., as a religious leader, a terrorist, an animal, and so forth. They will have the opportunity to imagine themselves as a different person altogether, living a different life. And they will each contribute to their own personal recreation of the Afterlife, depicting their view of existence beyond the body and the self, and their thoughts on how life looks to them from this new, transpersonal perspective. The film will set out to portray each of these very distinct, charismatic humans as but masks or windows onto the gestalt Human: a single, unified and collective consciousness, of which we all are but fleeting manifestations. The idea of death, then, is used not as a morbid dampener on the life experience but, on the contrary, as what drives us and inspires us to attain ever higher states of consciousness in our brief time as individual beings. It is what finally unites all these separate entities into a single, continuous energy or Life Force.
To clarify this point: the acceptance of the movie is that in death, the illusion of selfness is shed, along with the body or “skin,” and consciousness “returns” to the primordial, formless energy from which it emerged. Whether this once individual consciousness is then dispersed into the Universe, recycled into a new form, or something else altogether, is entirely up to the individual, and depends on just how far s/he has developed his/her awareness, knowledge, and imagination, while alive.
The God Game will consider the possibility that in death we are hurled into Eternity and there left to create our own reality. It will posit the notion that, if so, this is also the case in life: that we are each one of us creating our own reality through the acts of perception and interpretation, but that we have gotten lost in details. When death comes to tap us, the curtains close, the angels and demons and unborn and dead souls applaud, and we realize that this world was but a stage, our life but a performance, of such verisimilitude that we were wholly lost therein. At that point the Grand Director says, “OK, lovely, let’s try it one more time,” or, “Perfect! That’s a wrap!” or any number of alternatives we can imagine (including that there is no Director besides ourself).
The question the film will ask is, If in death we find that our world and reality is but an extension of ourselves, and the creation of our own consciousness, might it not be possible to realize this in life?
The God Game is about perception. It’s about illusion, identity, and the masks we wear to hide from the terrible, wonderful truth of ourselves: that we are the sole creators of our reality. Imagine, then, twenty-four players, twenty-four lives, interwoven into a single Tapestry. Imagine razor-fine editing that will create a musical cadence to the images, until each life/personality merges with the next and all are revealed as sharing a common Identity, an Identity which is accessed by us all through death, but might equally be accessed in life, through sex, madness, or other methods. This Identity is what we have called, in our confusion and our isolation, “God.” It is Who were really are.
The film will be an intricately woven quilt, a magik carpet, a collage or montage of moments, scenes, images, ideas, descriptions, words. The twenty-four players (plus assorted supporting players) will come and go throughout the film. They will not be showcased in separate segments, nor will they be named until the final moments. They will stand out only through their physical attributes and individual characteristics, their charisma, their ability to shine. If there is to be a structure to the film, it will be based not on individual persons but rather on specific themes or subjects. For example, there will be titles throughout, say, “Sex,” in large white letters on black screen, followed by ten or fifteen minutes of images, thoughts, and impressions upon the subject, all woven into one another. Depending on the footage we get, I expect that most spoken word sequences will not continue for longer than 20 or 30 seconds, and some for no more than 2 or 3 seconds. The players’ thoughts will be woven together thus as part of some strange, telepathic template. For example, one player begins a sentence, another continues it, a third finishes it. Or one player begins a story, another takes over telling a different but similar story, and so on, finally back to the first player. This way, various stories are being told simultaneously, and all are connected by the final “realization” shared by all. (For example, a paranormal experience which convinces us that there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in our philosophy.)
The film will take the form of a Map of the Hologrammatic Universe, the “Body of God,” and present the argument that Reality is made of Language. Each Player or Soul will be a path or doorway on this Map, a character within the Myth, or Game. The humans and objects and symbols presented within this context will be as it were the thread of pearls by which we navigate the Labyrinth. The interview questions will be designed to help the Player define him or herself in such archetypal, mythical (not quite personal) terms, for example, asking them to imagine themselves as an animal, a color, a body part, a planet, a natural disaster, and so forth, and juxtaposing the various responses. The God Game will proceed like so, as a partially obscure, largely surreal, wholly mysterious and absorbing stream of consciousness movie. Moving from one subject to another, returning to the same faces again and again, we will gradually come to know the players, even as they become more and more mysterious and enigmatic to us. Towards the end of the movie, perhaps in the last third, we will begin to segue into the death sequences. These will be visually distinguishable from the life stuff, either by being in black and white or else via digital effects, to create the sense of being in another world. In this world, the death world, Eternity, all is energy, all is perception. Each monad soul creates its own reality. The only limits are those of the Imagination. Everything is intensified here to a maddening degree. A grain of dust is infinite, a moment lasts forever.
To recapitulate, The God Game will consist of the following basic ingredients:
1) Players talking in their home environment, in close-ups, medium shots, long shots, from a varying assortment of angles. This will be intercut with (often using voice over):
2) Players in motion, on the street, their place of work or at play, in the pub, public transport, dancing, and so forth, basically out and about, living their lives. Some of these images will be overlaid with the actors talking; on other occasions, the player will be talking to the camera while in the scene, in the style of certain movies (Alfie, for example).
3) Abstract shots of articles, objects, and things from the player’s home and life environment, shot in extreme close ups so as to be unrecognizable, at least initially. These objects represent extensions of the Player’s personality, the things they cannot take with them. “I surround myself with things that look like me,” as the Michael Gira song goes. As such they will form part of the individual tapestry of each player’s persona/soul/universe.
4) Shots of things, objects, animals, events, relevant to a given monologue. E.g., shot of a bird flying for “I felt as free as a bird.” Beyond such rather obvious inserts (which will be used in the fast, almost subliminal editing style which Oliver Stone employed for Natural Born Killers), there will be more subtle, free-associative images, the meaning of which will be more obscure (e.g., person talking about frustration, shot of a hamster on a wheel or a man trying to get a chair up some stairs; for these shots we will go to stock footage from TV, anything in the public domain)
5) Digital effects. Impressionistic images and scenes from the Afterlife.
6) Titles. Since The God Game is to be an extremely impressionistic, free-flowing, non-liner, “right-brain” work, in order not to overly confuse or alienate the viewer there will be sporadically placed title cards, white letters on black screen, stating subjects to be covered; we will also be inserting relevant quotes, from the Bible, philosophers, and so forth (rather as in Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog). These may even be read aloud by the players, who will be asked to come up with some of their favorite quotes. This technique will provide relief whenever the viewer is starting to feel swept away in the rising tide of images, ideas, and associations.
The desired effect of The God Game will be to create a sense of vertigo at the overwhelming nature of the human experience, the myriad, mutating points of view that make up the collective human experience and our multi-faceted, only partially consensus perception of “reality.” This reality, we will show, is by no means as fixed and final as we are inclined (and programmed) to believe. The film will strive to create an affinity between the audience and the Players, since we are all sharing a common experience, that of “the ship-wrecked,” hopelessly (if happily) lost in this sea of free associations. It will illustrate the manner in which each of us assembles and holds fast to his own meanings, her own truths, and that these truths are always relative, never absolute. They are like stepping stones that shift whenever we tread upon them. Finally, it will be seen that the personal search for “identity” is impossible until one accepts that there is no identity outside of this search. The fool rode his ox in search of oxen. The means for seeking and the thing that is sought are one and the same. Who, at last, is seeking this elusive “self”? God hides, and God seeks.
The Quest is all.