1971-1980ExperimentalStan BrakhageUSA

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. Horrified, I rushed up into my work room and began rummaging among footage that I knew was related to the dream. A central part of this was a stack of old Dupont film that had not even been made in the last 10 years that I had carried around for 27 years. All these boxes marked Murder Psalm. Also some footage that Western Cine had sent me, stuff in a trash can that said, “that looks like a Brakhage film.” And I quickly started putting this footage together. I really was in a panic and went downstairs and reread all of Stavrogin’s confession in Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed, which had a sense of child abuse. Not long after this I would subsequently learn that I was a major sufferer of child abuse, and from my mother. I did not know about it consciously until I did some real digging, and this was the beginning. Dostoyevsky in effect confesses to child abuse in this incredible passage, and I recommend this passage for some serious study of a matter which we are all desperately trying to comprehend. Murder Psalm is made from found footage which is drawn from a variety of sources, from potentialities of child abuse to the simplest of cruelties of children, that is, of one human to another that can destroy life. In this case part of the film came from footage on epilepsy. I have wrenched it into something much larger in my urgency and necessity. At any rate that film was made in three days. And I was damn glad to get rid of it because it is not a film I would ever have wanted to have made, but I have never dodged an imperative. — Stan Brakhage

475MB | 16m 28s | 768×576 | mkv




  1. Thanks very much! The attention you pay to upgrading existing uploads is much appreciated.

    This is a much better transfer with a crispy enough contrast to catch all of the bubbles and stains from frame to frame, and the darker shots don’t disappear in the murk.

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