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Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson, John 5, Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Ginger Fish
Writing Credits:

Not Rated.

Standard 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Stereo
Not closed-captioned

Runtime: 79 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 10/29/2002

• “The Death Parade” Documentary


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Marilyn Manson: Guns, God and Goverment Wold Tour (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Will Marilyn Manson still have a career 10 years from now? I dunno, but I continue to dig him. Along with the band that bears his name, Manson has created some terrific music over the past few years. After a couple of fairly generic albums in the early to mid Nineties, they came into their own with their most successful album, 1996’s Antichrist Superstar.

Some thought that Manson succeeded due to the presence of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor in the production chair, but they proved the naysayers wrong with 1998’s Mechanical Animals. Though that release didn’t sell as well as Antichrist, it provided a more varied and engaging piece as a whole. 2000’s Holy Wood fell short of the heights reached by Animals, but it nonetheless provided a generally solid album.

The concert program entitled Guns, God and Government World Tour takes its name from “The Love Song”, a track off of Holy Wood. The material found here emanates from the tour in support of that album, so it comes as no surprise that most of the tracks come from it. Of the 17 numbers, seven of them originated on Holy Wood: “The Love Song”, “The Fight Song”, “Disposable Teens”, “The Nobodies”, “The Death Song”, “Cruci-Fiction In Space”, and “Count to Six and Die”.

The remaining 11 songs spread across Manson’s career. Three appeared on Animals: “Great Big White World”, “The Dope Show”, and “Rock Is Dead”. Another four originally showed up on Antichrist: “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”, “The Beautiful People”, “Antichrist Superstar” and “The Reflecting God”. Lastly, a few odds and sods finish the collection. Manson’s remake of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” showed up on 1995’s Smells Like Children, while 1994’s Portrait of an American Family contributed “Lunchbox”. “Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes” wound up as a Holy Wood era B-side.

I went into Guns as a Manson fan, but even so, I can’t say the program wowed me. Manson puts on a good live show, as I’ve seen a couple of times. Unfortunately, Guns poorly represents those concert extravaganzas.

Apparently taking a cue from NIN’s and all that could have been, Guns shows snippets from scads of different performances during each song. While Pearl Jam’s Touring Band 2000 simply offered whole tunes from various concerts and combined them into one running whole, Guns rapidly jumps from show to show within each number.

I felt this approach provided some problems during and all that could have been, and Guns exacerbates those concerns to a significantly higher degree. For the NIN project, the music and the visuals occasionally didn’t mesh very well, but those issues seem minor compared to the mismatches seen during Guns. At least NIN maintained similar clothes and stage set-ups on their tour. Manson’s garb and presentation varies quite a lot throughout this program, and the changes often occur during the different songs.

That makes it very tough to get into the concert. It doesn’t help that much of it uses rapid-fire music video style editing. The pace slows to a more reasonable level after a few songs, thankfully; it occasionally returns to the choppiness of the early moments, but for the most part, it seems more acceptable once we get past the first few tracks.

Nonetheless, the combination of poor editing and mismatched source material makes Guns quite off-putting much of the time. It never feels like we really get to see a concert. This program comes across more like a long promotional clip. I don’t mind this sort of montage approach for actual music videos, and in small doses, the approach can work well to connote the experience of the tour. For example, Bruce Springsteen’s live “Born to Run” – found on Video Anthology 1978-2000 offers a very exciting and lively piece.

However, I wouldn’t want to see a whole Bruce show presented that way, and the approach doesn’t work for Manson either. The music never connects to the visuals well, which makes the program disconcerting to watch. While the heavy editing probably tries to create more excitement, it actually diffuses the energy and keeps us from getting involved in the show.

Add to that some seriously amped up crowd noise plus vocals that sound suspiciously overdubbed and Guns, God and Government comes as a definite disappointment. Marilyn Manson puts on concerts that seem visually provocative and inventive, and though the music occasionally starts to blend together, the shows still maintain enough distinction to work. You won’t see that here, as Guns almost totally fails to adequately convey the experience of a Manson performance.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+ / Audio B- / Bonus C

Marilyn Manson: Guns, God and Government World Tour appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Comprised of a slew of source materials, Guns provided a seriously erratic visual experience that seemed only occasionally satisfying.

Sharpness varied throughout the program. At times I saw some reasonably crisp and well defined images, but much of the show appeared soft and messy. The DVD apparently came totally from video sources, and it used a mix of equipment that made the variations even more obvious. Jagged edges occurred very frequently, as the picture often presented rough and awkward visuals. Source flaws manifested themselves in the form of some video artifacting, though those issues didn’t seem too significant.

As one might expect from the malevolent Manson, Guns provided a restricted palette that didn’t feature much in the way of color. Nonetheless, the hues consistently appeared too heavy. They seemed runny and messy much of the time and lacked much distinction. Black levels seemed decently dark and dense, but shadows looked overly thick and opaque. Low-light sequences became too muddy and murky. In the end, I found it somewhat tough to watch Guns due to the weak visual presentation.

Happily, the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks of Guns, God and Government worked better, though they still seemed somewhat less satisfying than I’d like. When I compared the two mixes, I felt no preference between them. The Dolby and DTS tracks sounded virtually identical to me.

As one might anticipate from a concert presentation, the soundfield mainly emphasized the front speakers. For the most part, the program displayed good stereo imaging, though vocals demonstrated some weaknesses. Manson’s singing seemed ill defined at the start of the program and tended to bleed from the center into the other channels. The vocals tightened up as the piece progressed, however; they still showed a little looseness, but not to the degree observed earlier. In any case, the odd spread gave the singing an odd sound that made it appear unnatural at times, and Manson’s work occasionally didn’t blend well with the rest of the music.

Otherwise, the mixes displayed solid instrumental localization and delineation. The rears mostly offered crowd noise and general reinforcement of the music, though I occasionally noticed some heavier instrumental focus. At times, the surrounds appeared to present some unique percussion and other elements, but these remained fairly strongly stuck in the front.

Audio quality appeared positive. Despite the weird bleeding of the vocals, they usually sounded reasonably accurate and distinct. Instrumentation came across as bright and tight. The different elements seemed a little tough to differentiate at times, but that mainly resulted from the nature of the music. Manson’s songs don’t exactly highlight individual performers, so the denseness made sense for this material. The various components nonetheless appeared crisp and distinct, and the mixes showed good bass response as a whole. Really, without the distracting qualities of the vocals, Guns would have probably made it close to “A” level, but as it stood, the audio only merited a “B-“.

For this DVD’s sole supplement, we find The Death Parade, a 29-minute and 23-second documentary. It doesn’t attempt to present any form of coherent narrative and instead shoots for a loose tour diary feel. It jumps from place to place quickly and captures many performances along with much off-stage debauchery. Some of the best moments include a duet between Manson and Eminem, a visit to a Mississippi Wal-Mart, and a concert segment in which Manson challenges some jerk who threw a bottle at him to come on-stage. Not for the squeamish, “Parade” includes graphic shots of a bloody wound, the image of a she-male who whips out her dick and urinates, and a fair amount of additional nudity. “Parade” lacks coherence, but it seems fairly entertaining nonetheless.

Too bad Guns, God and Government World Tour itself falls flat. The program mixes too many sources and seems like nothing more than a fairly choppy music video. The show fails to adequately depict a Marilyn Manson concert and comes as a disappointment. Picture quality seems generally weak. Audio fares better, though some oddly disconnected vocals harm that aspect of the piece. At least the DVD’s sole supplement offers an intriguing – if occasionally disgusting – piece of work. Die-hard Manson fans will probably want to own Guns, but anyone less dedicated should probably skip this ineffective concert program.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1363 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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