Evan Rachel Wood’s “Phoenix Rising” and the art of trauma

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“Surviving R. Kelly” “We need to talk about Cosby.” “Audrie and Daisy” Currently, “Phoenix Slying” is the latest in the abuse documentary category. The two-part film streamed on HBO Max has an abusive relationship in which actor Evan Rachel Wood claims to have endured the hands of rocker Marilyn Manson, including serious physical abuse, psychological abuse, and rape. Surprisingly clear.

Filmed for Manson’s music video “Heart-shaped Glass” while Wood was taking medicines disagreeably, Wood claims that the camera had at least one sexual violence. She promised her that she was only “simulated sex” in the video she said, not when her camera started spinning.

How many documentaries do you need about abuse? Of course, the answer is all of them. Every experience of survival is unique and every survivor is worth listening to. But with it? “Phoenix Slying” is amazingly painfully beautiful.

Related: HBO’s Raging Evan Rachel Wood Document

Manson began his relationship with Wood at the age of 18. At 37, he is reminiscent of the age difference between Marlee Matlin and William Hurt. Manson was also married at that time. And Wood thought they would just be friends, but is said to have romantically chased her fresh girlfriend from the acclaimed Star Turn in her movie “Thirteen.”

Wood says Manson isolated her from family and friends and began governing physical and emotional distress, which lasted almost five years with them. Wood tried to leave many times, and as this documentary shows, she was far from the only young woman who accused Manson of abuse.

It can be difficult to prepare yourself to see a documentary about abuse. As a result, I haven’t seen an episode of Netflix’s “Cheerleader” dealing with child sexual abuse for a long time. However, “Phoenix Slying” does not only start slowly, but also with kindness. “A small part of my journal” is the first word Wood speaks when reading a treatise at home in the first episode of a documentary.

HBO’s “Phoenix Rising” actress and activist Evan Rachel Wood is a two-part documentary about her experience as a survivor of domestic violence. (Courtesy: HBO)Some journals are typewriter-written in 90s-style fonts, while others are handwritten by Wood’s hilarious childhood. “Phoenix Slying” employs typical documentary tactics using vintage photos and home videos. But because the two main themes, Wood and Manson, are famous, the documentary is full of professional films and video clips, along with cover stories, victim blaming tabloids, and magazine headlines. Wood also came from her actor’s family, and her childhood home movies reveal the imagination and light taken from her, the stars bubbling with light.

“Phoenix Rising” is an original illustration and animation produced by the visionary artist Nicoletta Ceccoli, which takes the documentary one step further. The animation shows flowers, red-spotted mushrooms, and jumping frogs as Wood speaks aloud about homeschooling, lack of sex education, and, as a result, perhaps more rustic and protected than some children. It shows a young child walking barefoot in a long, studded grass.

The animated young blonde girl looks like Wood and Alice in “Alice in Wonderland,” a fairy tale character who plays an important role in the movie and Wood’s life.

It’s like a book for children. Vaguely colorful and dreamy, there are dark lessons, perhaps like the best children’s books. When Wood sees her body and says she’s confused as a child, the girl sees octopus-like tentacles appearing from under her plaid skirt and growing.

It’s gorgeous and upset, like much of the documentary. When Manson first kissed Wood, she got a kiss she didn’t know and she didn’t agree. It is shown by a ribbon of darkness, a black tentacle pushed into the mouth of an animated girl.

Phoenix sizingEvan Rachel Wood from “Phoenix Rising” (HBO)These animations are very beautiful and at the same time grotesque ghostly style, not only because of the sweetness that obscures the darkness, but also because Wood says the abuse began at the age of 18. It’s effective. Still, really children, especially when dealing with grown-up married men who are more than twice as old. When Manson first approached her, she wrote in her diary, “I made new friends,” in her naive and terrible youth innocence.

Ceccoli’s captivating illustrations and Wood’s teen journal entries don’t just nod in childhood. Documentaries show scrolling titles, like the scribbles you do in high school notebooks. This movie very effectively animates important terms in dictionary-style entries.There is an animated chapter on the abuse of GroomingFor example (in the corresponding page drawn by the praying girl Checcoli, the lower half of her is a gas lamp with flickering flames).

For years, as a kid, I wish I had been given a book explaining abuse and spelling out the following tactics: Gas lamp When I love bombing, A term that has just begun to be popular conversations and understandings these days. Reading books like the animated children’s books here may have changed the lives of countless women and girls.

Corresponding to Ceccoli’s art, “Phoenix Rising” includes Manson’s own artwork, self-portraits, wood portraits (which look cramped and bloody over the years), and paintings incorporating Nazi symbols (wood). Is Jewish) is also included. Manson’s direct words are used here along with quotations from his memoirs, but to those who have been accused of using his paintings for causing such damage to so many people. Give a clue.


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Some horror cannot be expressed directly. Part of the reason you can’t look away from “Phoenix Slying” is that you don’t look away Have to avert one’s eyes. There’s horrific abuse here, but animating it as a metaphor will probably make it more accessible, especially for those who are still reluctant to believe in survivors.

When the girl’s character sits on the throne next to the shadow man, who looks a bit like Manson, a drop of ink turns her thin dress into black. In a hurry, the black watercolors overwhelm the screen. Darkness is everywhere. This may be the most powerful and visual expression of abuse I have ever seen.

We get it right away — this is difficult for a documentary like this. Wood has spent a significant part of her life since meeting her Manson, trying to both survive him and make her people believe her. How to persuade people to listen is a big part of the survivor’s life and heritage. Maybe this is another, incredibly powerful method.

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