Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage – The Stars Are Beautiful (1974)

Stan Brakhage’s 1974 film The Stars Are Beautiful is unusual among his works, primarily because it features a soundtrack, in the form of a narration (as well as direct sound which accompanies home-video footage of his children clipping a chicken’s wings). He wrote the voiceover himself over the course of a month or two: growing tired of the same old creation myths, he invented a new one every night – imaginative speculations on where the stars, sun, and moon came from. The film itself is not one of his strongest works but the narration is inventive, humorous, often silly, and occasionally quite stirring Read More »

Stan Brakhage – Lovemaking (1968)

One of America’s finest filmmakers tackles “lovemaking” in its many varieties (hetrosexual, homosexual as well as various animals having sex). Without a soundtrack (as the artist always thought that sound was an aesthetic error in filmmaking), the film is shot with Brakhage’s characteristic visual rhythmns. Read More »

Stan Brakhage – The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (1971)

Forensic pathologists perform autopsies. The first two consist of examination, measurement, and checking muscles. The remaining ones involve cutting away bone to expose and examine internal organs, peeling back skin and muscle, removing organs, using syringes to extract bodily fluids, and cutting pieces of tissue. Clothes are inventoried. As each autopsy ends, bodies are covered with sheets. There is no soundtrack. We see a body with extensive burns. The hands and trunks of the pathologists appear; sometimes we see them holding the microphone of a tape recorder. The work is sometimes delicate, sometimes not; it’s often bloody. We are form and meat. Read More »

Stan Brakhage – Murder Psalm (1980)

I had just finished the last of the “Sincerity and Duplicity” series which I had been working on for over 10 years. I was completely exhausted and desperately needed a rest. I was in the middle of reading a book about Sigmund Freud by the keeper of the International Psychoanalytical archives. Before I went to sleep I had come across the statement that, while there is a vast multitude of case histories of the murder of the father there are only very few and very oblique references to murdering the mother. That night I dreamed that I murdered my mother, with an axe to her head. And the dream was so vivid that my hand was vibrating as if from the handle of the axe. Read More »

Stan Brakhage & Philip S. Solomon – Seasons… (2002)

Letterboxd wrote:
Brakhage’s hand carvings directly into the film emulsions are illuminated and textured by Solomon’s lighting and optical printing. Read More »

Stan Brakhage – Deus Ex (1971)

Deus Ex
I have been many times very ill in hospitals; and I drew on all that experience while making DEUS EX in West Pennsylvania Hospital of Pittsburgh; but I was especially inspired by the memory of one incident in an Emergency Room of SF’s Mission District: while waiting for medical help, I had held myself together by reading an April-May 1965 issue of “Poetry Magazine”; and the following lines from Charles Olson’s “Cole’s Island” had especially centered the experience, “touchstone” of DEUS EX, for me: Charles begins the poem with the statement, “I met Death – ,” and then: “He didn’t bother me, or say anything. Which is / not surprising, a person might not, in the circumstances; / or at most a nod or something. Read More »

Stan Brakhage – Dog Star Man (1962-1964)

Finally reunited, Stan Brakhage’s masterpiece Dog Star Man is an experimental movie without sound. A creation myth realized in light, patterns, images superimposed, rapid cutting, and silence. A black screen, then streaks of light, then an explosion of color and squiggles and happenstance. Next, images of small circles emerge then of the Sun. Images of our Earth appear, woods, a part of a body, a nude woman perhaps giving birth. Imagery evokes movement across time and space. If the movie tends sometime toward abstraction, there is still a kind of off-the-tracks narration here. Dog Star Man could be about a man, lost in mountain, struggling to survive, and as he fell the breath of death on his shoulder, remembering trough flashes his wife and son. Read More »