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Year: 2005
USA: IFC Films
UK: Soda Pictures
Cast: Matthew Barney, Björk, Mayumi Miyata, Shiro Nomura, Tomoyuki Ogawa, Sosui Oshima
Director: Matthew Barney
Countries: USA / Japan
USA: 135 mins
UK: 151 mins
USA Release Date: 29 March 2006 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 28 September 2007 (Limited Release - London - The Gate, Notting Hill)

UK Distributor


DRAWING RESTRAINT 9, a film by Matthew Barney with a soundtrack composed by Björk, represents the first creative collaboration of two of the most protean, dynamic forces in music and fine art.

It is an apt pairing. Refusing to choose between pop pleasure and restless experimentation, Björk's musical vision weds technology and emotion, countering gut-level expression with an insistence upon formal modernity and innovation.

Similarly poised, and celebrated, within the world of contemporary art as Björk is within her own field, Matthew Barney is a visual artist whose ambitious, rigorous multimedia work encodes esoteric meanings while providing lushly immediate aesthetic rewards. Best known for THE CREMASTER CYCLE, the sprawling sequence of five films made over ten years which was the subject of a recent Guggenheim retrospective, Matthew Barney's work is multimedia in execution but singularly focused in conception: tightly unified fusions of sculpture, performance, architecture, set design, music, computer generated effects and prosthetics, Barney's films deploy the full range of cinematic resources in the service of a hermetic vision rich with densely layered networks of meaning drawn from mythology, history, sports, music, and biology.

The basis of Barney's approach is an operative tension between sculpture and film: the lingering attention to sensuous detail and richly organized aesthetics lends each character, costume, artefact, set, and architectural location within his work the frozen timelessness of sculpture-- yet these components are subjected to vigorous processes of radical rupture and change as the films unfold.


His latest work, the two hour and fifteen minute magnum opus DRAWING RESTRAINT 9, was shot in Nagasaki Bay on board the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru.

Its core idea is the relationship between self-imposed resistance and creativity, a theme it symbolically tracks through the construction and transformation of a vast sculpture of liquid vaseline, called "The Field", which is moulded, poured, bisected and reformed on the deck of the ship over the course of the film.

Barriers hold form in place, and when they are removed, the film tracks the descent of form into states of sensual surrender and formal atrophy; this shift in the physical state of the sculpture is symbolically mirrored through the narrative of The Guests, two occidental visitors to the ship played in the film by Matthew Barney and Björk, who we first see taken on board, groomed, bathed and dressed in mammal fur costumes based upon traditional Shinto marriage costumes.

They take part in a tea ceremony in which, in the film's only moment of spoken dialogue, they are informed about the history of the vessel, and then, as an increasingly powerful lightning storm breaks out overhead, the tatami mat room they occupy floods with liquid vaseline, a fluid which we sense has emanated from The Field sculpture itself.

In a harrowing liebestod which is the climax and centerpiece of the film, the Guests, locked in an embrace and breathing through blowhole-like orifices on the back of their necks, take out flensing knives and cut away each other's feet and thighs. The remains of their lower body are revealed to contain traces of whale tails at an early stage of development, suggesting rebirth, physical transformation, and the possibility of new forms.

Having reached a state of maximum disintegration, the sculpture of The Field is then reorganized and the ship emerges from the storm, sailing through a field of icebergs towards the open southern ocean. In the last shot, two whales can be seen swimming behind the ship, headed for Antarctica.


{01} gratitude 04:59
{02} pearl 03:43
{03} ambergris march 03:57
{04} bath 05:07
{05} hunter vessel 06:36
{06} shimenawa 02:48
{07} vessel shimenawa 01:54
{08} storm 05:32
{09} holographic entrypoint 09:57
{10} cetacea 03:12
{11} antarctic return 04:18

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