Stan Brakhage: Kindering (1987) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Stan Brakhage: Kindering (1987)

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Many of Stan Brakhage's films are available for viewing in multiple venues.  You can watch Kindering here.

Kindering - 1987Oh dear.  After The Stars Are Beautiful, I hoped that future Stan Brakhage films featuring sound and his family would not be nearly as tiring.  With Kindering it felt like Brakhage was replicating that scene in Dumb and Dumber where Harry and Lloyd bring their hapless passenger to violent frustration by making the most annoying sound in the world.

Kindering is another Brakhage film where he's playing around with different juxtapositions and distorted viewpoints of his family.  In this case, it is his grandchildren playing in the yard.  The film opens on a great, and somewhat horrific, image of the yard turned into a prison by a jangled web of foliage, clothespins, toys, and some railing.

That interest shatters as the soundtrack of the children singing along in heavily distorted voices stretched out over the entire length of the production.  It's aggravating, and out-of-place with the visuals Brakhage constructed here.  The way that the moaning is produced it sounds like the sort of wailing you'd hear in a horror film about children encountering the terror of technology.  But there's nothing really modern here outside of Brakhage's camera, which overexposes the film and goes into fits of anamorphic rotation.  Around and around the world spins as the children wail and then, mercifully, it ends.

Brakhage's commentary is curious, as he says that, "They are seen, as in dream, to be already caught-up in - yet absolutely distinct - from the rituals of adulthood."  This is odd because the only image that makes this connection clear is the one of his grandson trying to pedal his toy wheelie around and getting the brake caught like a grown motorist might have trouble with their parking break.  But the clothes-pins prison with foliage and deck make up most of the other images, and nothing about either their mere existence or the way they are distorted in Kindering makes me think, "Adult."

I honestly don't have a read on this one because it's a shrill experience packaged with a home film.  The horrific elements don't quite jibe with the relative safety of the environment despite its initial foreboding threat.  It's not a good experiment compared to what he's done before, and, despite the results of this and The Stars Are Beautiful, still hope that these home video films aren't all bad.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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