River of Fundament

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River of Fundament
Film poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by Matthew Barney
Based on Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer
Music by Jonathan Bepler
Cinematography Peter Streitmann
Laurenz Foundation
Release date
February 12, 2014 (United States)
Running time
330 minutes
Country United States
Language English

River of Fundament is a 2014 operatic film written and directed by American artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney, who co-directed with longtime collaborator Jonathan Bepler. It was produced by Barney and the Laurenz Foundation and is loosely based on the 1983 novel Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer. The film features Barney, Dave Bald Eagle, Milford Graves, Ellen Burstyn, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Paul Giamatti, and Aimee Mullins.

Produced in a span of five years, from 2007 to 2012, the film follows Mailer as he travels through three different reincarnations, enduring the seven mythological states of his soul.[1] Along with the main narrative include other elements from performance, sculpture, and opera, including the rise and fall of the American car industry. It has been described as an "eulogy for [Norman] Mailer."[2]

The film was released on February 12, 2014 in a limited theatrical release and through exhibitions at museums in several countries.

Plot summary[edit]

Writer Norman Mailer, becoming a protagonist of his own, reincarnates three times into three separate bodies through the womb and body of his wife, Hathfertiti.


  1. ^ Barney, Matthew. "Synopsis". River of Fundament. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  2. ^ Benns, Sway. "This 6-Hour Film Will Test Your Patience, Thirst, and Expectations for Art". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2018-05-21.