First, the long awaited release of Bruce Baillie’s 1971 Masterpiece with a capital M (the first five minutes will make your head spin) Quick Billy. This third release is available through Canyon Cinema , $50 for home use and $300 for institutional use. An immense amount of sacrifice and effort went into the creation of this DVD, so sincere gratitude is owed to many (especially Baillie himself and John Carlson, who aided with the transfer and color coding). The beauty of the film is difficult to put into words, but as Bruce Elder says of the film: Continue reading Bruce Baillie – Quick Billy (1971)
The experience of transformation between life and death, death and birth, or rebirth in four reels.
Interview With Baillie by Brecht Andersch:
BB: I caught hepatitis almost a year before I started working on Quick Billy. I got the hepatitis at the ranch, then I retired to Berkeley with my parents to lie on the floor next to the couch for the next nine months. It was a real knockout. It was kind of a question of whether I could live or not. Several of my friends had died of it. It wasn’t serum hepatitis, but it was a very serious case that some of us had. And after three or four months, I started to try to walk around a little, and then started to try to drive. That’s how I found myself up at Fort Bragg, where most of my friends lived … I started (shooting) about nine months after the onset of the disease, and a friend let me stay in his cabin on the beach. That was a lifesaver. Continue reading Bruce Baillie – Quick Billy (1971) (DVD)
Three short movies by Bruce Baillie.
1. Castro Street (1966)
Inspired by a lesson from Erik Satie; a film in the form of a street – Castro Street running by the Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, California … switch engines on one side and refinery tanks, stacks and buildings on the other – the street and film, ending at a red lumber company. All visual and sound elements from the street, progressing from the beginning to the end of the street, one side is black-and-white (secondary), and one side is colour – like male and female elements. The emergence of a long switch-engine shot (black-and-white solo) is to the filmmaker the essential of consciousness. Continue reading Bruce Baillie – Castro Street / Mr. Hayashi / All My Life (1961 – 1966)
Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964, 20 minutes, 16mm) is dedicated by Baillie to “the religious people who were destroyed by the civilization which evolved the Mass.” It is on one level a “Mass” for the American Indian conquered and displaced by the white American in quest of manifest destiny. A quote from the native American Sitting Bull opens the film,
No chance for me to live mother
You might as well mourn
But this conflict of American history is also an echo of the artist’s own dilemma. Like the Beat Generation poets and writers, Baillie is situated outside the mainstream. He is an outsider looking in. His vision, personal, perceptive, unique and unmitigated by the profit motive defines the role of the contemporary artist. Continue reading Bruce Baillie – Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964)
Song of revolutionary hero, Valentin, sung by Jose Santollo Nasido en Santa Cruz de la Soledad; Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. Continue reading Bruce Baillie – Valentin de las Sierras (1971)
The Structure of Lyric:
Baillie’s to Parsifal
It’s difficult to say exactly where or how To Parsifal is a lyric film and where or how a narrative work. For this reason, ordinary critical vocabularies (based on certain “types” of films) do not apply with much usefulness to Bruce Baillie’s abstractly assembled color images, nor to the nature and functions of his sound track. To get a sense of how this film works it will be necessary first to break it down, outline it, in order to see how the (implied) viewer puts it together. Continue reading Bruce Baillie – To Parsifal (1963)
An early film made for an Oakland school for mentally disturbed children.
From the 1910s through the 1950s newsreels were a staple of American
Moviegoing experience. Released nationally to theaters once or twice a week and running about 10 min., newsreels highlighted the events of the day – politics,sports,
scandals, ceremonies – and generally included at least one human-interest story.
Sometimes local theaters made their own, thrilling audiences by profiling hometown
personalities. With Here I Am Bruce Baillie brings this inclusive approach
to the avant-garde. Continue reading Bruce Baillie – Here I Am (1962)