Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1997)

Not quite just a clip show, NEON GENESIS: EVANGELION: DEATH & REBIRTH is comprised of two parts. The first, DEATH, is nearly entirely footage from the television show. The second, REBIRTH, is the first thirty minutes from what would end up being finalised as the sequel film to the show (often billed as an alternative finale), THE END OF EVANGELION. There were some changes in the animation of that footage when it came to the final film, and so too are there some additions to the footage in DEATH, but in terms of just the actual footage used, this is essentially a clip show, then a third of a sequel film.

The footage in DEATH is not in the order of the episodes as they aired, not is it in in-universe chronological order. It starts with chronologically early new footage, worked in as a director’s cut of the twenty-first episode of the series, then starts darting around in the timeline of the character Misato. Then it cuts to more new footage of Asuka, then follows her up and down her timeline in a stream-of-consciousness style. Then it folds back into the first episode of the series, before jumping to the ending of the twenty-fourth episode. Then there is new footage in the form of a sort of framing device of Shinji playing the cello. Then back to episode one.

Scenes are frenetically re-edited, with much material cut out, in a very quick and disorienting style, but the character throughlines make it all work. The stream-of-consciousness style is somewhat dizzying, but there is clear method to the madness. Contemplative voicovers are edited over existing scenes of dialogue, which is difficult to parse, but does add interesting new context. It functions more as a thoughtful reinterpretation of the series for one that’s already seen it, rather than just a “catch-up” or streamlined plot-heavy clip show of the first twenty-four episodes (the ones the sequel film would ostensibly follow up on).

REBIRTH is difficult to talk about, as it really is just a third of a film that hadn’t been finished by the time this was released – in fact, the lack of budget to finish the film is what drove the release of this at all! While logistically speaking this experience is certainly a film in its own right insofar as it was released into cinemas and so on, the fact that the REBIRTH portion of THE END OF EVANGELION cuts off because they ran out of money to finish animating the script does make the prospect of trying to critique it on its own terms seem silly, given that it’s been over two decades since THE END OF EVANGELION was completed. So I’ll just say that the DEATH portion of the film is a legitimately interesting reinterpretive frenetic-clip-show-of-sorts, and the REBIRTH section is useless to any besides completionists, as it’s just the unfinished version of a film that already exists. Three and a half AT Fields, and a super-intelligent penguin.

One thought on “Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1997)

  1. Pingback: Revival of Evangelion (1998) | Samuel Rooke's Blog

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