Review | "General Orders No. 9"
It's easy, in a film festival setting, to miss a film's subtleties sometimes, when you're trying to watch as many films in a day as you can. If it doesn't grab you right off the bat, it's going to fall through the cracks.
So when I sat down to watch General Orders No. 9 for a second time for review purposes, I was surprised just how differently I felt about it by the time it was over. Even with a scant running time of 72 minutes, there is a lot to chew on here.
It turns elegiac, however, as Persons turns to the urban development that has forever changed the face of the South. The interstate is viewed as a blight upon the landscape, a jagged scar that divides rather than unites, destroying the fragile order of the old ways. Here, the old South is elevated to the status of myth, a bygone memory lost amid faceless, soulless urban sprawl.
"It exists as a world entire," Davidson often intones throughout the film, and indeed the film itself invokes the feeling of an entire world seen through the eyes of a man who has been deeply immersed in it since childhood. The South of General Orders No. 9 may not exist anymore, and while Persons memorably mourns its passing, he has ensured that it will not soon be forgotten through this unique and inspired ode to Dixie.
GRADE - ★★★ (out of four)
GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9 | Directed by Robert Persons | Narrated by William Davidson | Not rated | Now showing in select cities.