Richard Myers – The Path (1960)

B&W, SILENT.

“Light as the symbol of the ineffable. The ‘plot’ of this subjective recreation of a dream seems to concern a mysterious journey; the spectator, however, is visually directed toward forms and substances rather than to the protagonists by a filmmaker who is a master of visionary cinema.” – Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art

“Richard Myers has, thru his films, given us the ONLY consistently creative variable to dream-thinking in our time. All else, in film, slides toward surrealism and/or props itself with misplaced Freudian symbols, at best, or else gets lost in the Jung-le, at the verses. Myers’ work is rooted in what he doesn’t know about, just exactly what he knows – his own home grounds mid-America, and like D.W. Griffith he takes the great risk of being native to his art, attending it on its home-grown grounds/his-UNowned-dreams.” – Stan Brakhage Continue reading

Len Lye – Free Radicals (1958)

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Free Radicals

Directed by Len Lye
US 1958, revised 1979, 16mm, b/w, 4 min.

Quote:
In arguably his greatest film, Lye reduces the medium to its most basic elements by scratching designs on black film. He used a variety of scribers ranging from dental tools to an ancient Native American arrowhead, and synchronized the images to traditional African music (a field tape of the Bagirmi tribe). The film won second prize in the International Experimental Film Competition, which was judged by Man Ray, Norman McLaren, Alexander Alexeiff and others at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. In 1979 Lye further condensed the film by dropping a minute of footage. Stan Brakhage described the final version as “an almost unbelievably immense masterpiece (a brief epic).” Continue reading

George C. Stoney – All My Babies (1952)

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Quote:
One of the first and most important films to treat child birth as a human event and to show it fully. This documentary of a compassionate Black midwife at work in the deep South remained restricted to medical personnel for many years. One cannot recall a more moving, humanist portrayal of the wonder and pain of the event. Continue reading

Derek Jarman – A Journey to Avebury (1971)

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Journey to Avebury beautifully reflects Derek Jarman’s fascination with ancient history, paganism, and Celtic traditions.

An IMDB review:
Derek Jarman is often said to be a painter rather than a movie director. Indeed, with his films he makes pictures that seem to be more important than the plot (which is usually unclear or missing at all). But those pieces of art he creates using camera are beautiful and astounding.

A JOURNEY TO AVEBURY, his 1971 silent short movie, is a literal journey that we can experience. We are being taken to Avebury and given the chance to admire it for 10 minutes. The shots are incredibly beautiful, as we see a huge stone or trees bathed in orange light of sunset.

The film lacks a plot and sound and should be treated as a collection of images rather than a movie. If you like Jarman’s art – you’ll be pleased with this one. If you like beauty – you’ll love it. But if you’re looking for action or amusement, better walk around it because these 10 minutes might just be too long for you. Continue reading

Grigori Chukhrai – Ballada o soldate AKA Ballad of a Soldier (1959) – (DVD)

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Amazon.com:
Grigory Chukhraj’s poetic odyssey of an accidental hero on a six-day pass is a sentimental journey through the ideals of the Soviet state in World War II. Vladimir Ivashov is the fresh-faced signalman whose trip from the Russian front to visit his white-haired mother becomes a series of detours as he stops to help the loyal comrades, fellow soldiers, and salt-of-the-earth civilians (as well as a few shirkers and scoundrels) he meets along the way. On a transport train he even falls in love with a pretty young stowaway, a feisty blond girl-next-door on her way to visit a wounded boyfriend. Delicately photographed and gently paced, this deliriously romantic road movie is undeniably Soviet in its celebration of patriotism and collectivism, but Chukhraj transcends politics with delightfully vivid characters and a deft mix of comedy, melodrama, and romance. –Sean Axmaker Continue reading

Carl Theodor Dreyer – Ordet AKA The Word [+extra] (1955)

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Plot:
A farmer’s family is torn apart by faith, sanctity, and love—one child believes he’s Jesus Christ, a second proclaims himself agnostic, and the third falls in love with a fundamentalist’s daughter. Putting the lie to the term “organized religion,” Ordet (The Word) is a challenge to simple facts and dogmatic orthodoxy. Layering multiple stories of faith and rebellion, Dreyer’s adaptation of Kaj Munk’s play quietly builds towards a shattering, miraculous climax.

Review:
‘Powerful’ doesn’t do justice to this 1955 exploration of life, death and faith from Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer. Based on Kaj Munk’s 1932 play, ‘Ordet’ is an austere, realist work on one level as it joins a farming family in their Jutland home over a short but devastating period of time. Continue reading