Stan Brakhage: Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse (1990) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Stan Brakhage: Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse (1990)

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Many of Stan Brakhage's films are available for viewing in multiple venues.  You can watch Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse here.

Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse - 1990Sometimes I look at the titles of Stan Brakhage's films and wonder if it would take longer to say the title than it would to watch the movie.  Today's film, Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse, is a good candidate for that test.  Like Glaze of Cathexis, the other Brakhage film I watched for this week, it's a title that I had to mull over in my mind for a bit before realizing how it would work with the rest of the film.

I didn't enjoy Molten as much as Glaze, and I'm still having a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around Molten's title, but it's a decent film from Brakhage.  It begins like many of his hand painted films do but the usual dense array of colors and shapes dulls and not as mobile.  When it starts to take shape a nice effect takes place with the shapes coming apart as ghosted duplicates slowly rise toward the top of the frame.  The film is about to have an out-of-body experience, and detaches from itself nicely.

This is where Brakhage introduces a sequence that is hypnotic to look at.  There are lines streaking in the background as the shapes become more subdued in the foreground and the colors start to take on similar tones.  The movement of the streaks combined with the calmed images looks like the night sky when you realize you are asleep and can go flying.  It's never quite real, but not too dissimilar to a darkened sea of stars that go by when you realize that you have control over the world.

Maybe my dreams are a bit more vivid than most, and other people won't get the same impression.  But Brakhage's technique here recalls the layered reality of dreams.  Instead of painting on a single stock, Brakhage stacked four different levels of film that he painted on individually.   So when we are watching the film in motion, it literally is four separate planes of action and reality moving in conjunction with one another.

Brakhage said that he got the inspiration for this film from when he was watching television and saw that the after-image sometimes left by the screen reminded him of the pictures he saw when he was about to go to sleep.  That state of dreamy transition suits Molten's technique nicely and it also explains the presence of what appears to be a close-up of a snowy television screen.  Furthering that television to dream dynamic are the light pulses which give the film a strobe effect at times.

It's all hypnotic, and very relaxing.  The title may be a bit much, but Brakhage found the beauty in the space between transmissions on his television, and put it to great use.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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