Stan Brakhage: Night Music (1986) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Stan Brakhage: Night Music (1986)

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

Night Music - 1986Night Music is a fine short in the hand-painted class of Stan Brakhage films.  Lush arrangement of color file in patiently one after another like slides through a projector.  Then all at once the screens becomes a swirling volcano-like mass erupting from the ground and dissipating as it reaches toward the blue tops of the frames.  Brakhage wrote that he was trying to capture the beauty of sadness, and the rush of color that rises from the bottom does feel like an epiphany at the end of a long meditation.  The arrangement does not overpower the rest of the frame, but finds a peaceful place within it before finally subsiding.

The effect is pleasant, but unlikely to linger in my memory as a great Brakhage short.  Last week I looked at The Dante Quartet, which another one of Brakhage's films that entered into conversation with media from a different medium.  Night Music was released a year before The Dante Quartet, and both used IMAX film stock to project the dense imagery.  But The Dante Quartet, with its transition states between other kinds of film and painting styles, was a more interesting film of philosophical changes through abstract painterly images.  Night Music is just pleasant with a few thoughts afterward as a parting gift.  It's by no means bad, but if either had the opportunity to be projected on a true IMAX The Dante Quartet provides additional detail lacking in Night Music.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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