JULIAN > NOTES
Julian is a film I tried to make for several years, with the most bizarre obstacles falling in its path. It’s about a failed attempt to revive the primitive role of art as a means of worship; much like the pagan Emperor Julian (“Julian the Apostate”) tried to hold back the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome. Movies about failure aren’t that popular, but I think they’re often more interesting.
Transplanting Carl Sagan's brain into Charles Manson's head. That surreal thought was the acorn of Julian. What if an intellectual with a humanistic worldview took a stab at being a cult leader in order to reach an audience beyond academia and mainstream culture? Furthermore, what if this person was a temperate boy with a hidden background, no education, and no latent need to have acolytes die for him?
Julian’s philosophy is a loose composite of Sagan, Gore Vidal, Norman O. Brown, Marshall McLuhan and Alan Watts. It is polar opposite to the apocalyptic paranoia of Manson and Jim Jones, and it is not inherently compatible with a discipleship. This provokes the main tension of the film; between the aspirations of Julian and the reality that falls short. In the end, it is not about this character as much as the perceptions that others have of him.
Julian is a departure from my previous films and hopefully more along the path I would like to follow in the future; i.e. less structured and more intuitive. Unlike the previous three films, it is not a narrative drama, not part of the Markopoulos saga, and not black-and-white. I enjoy its hard-to-classify status; part scripted, part improvised, part mockumentary, part video essay.