Stan Brakhage: Study in Color and Black and White (1993) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Stan Brakhage: Study in Color and Black and White (1993)

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Unlike previous entries, today's Stan Brakhage film is not readily available online but can be watched as part of The Criterion Collection's first "by Brakhage" volume.

Study in Color and Black and White - 1993Before I sit down to write these pieces I always try to find a video of whatever Stan Brakhage film is on the docket for the day and post it online in advance of my thoughts.  Brakhage was open and generous with his art and made it as widely available as he possible.  Had I not already watched Study in Color and Black and White this would have surprised me.  But I did indeed watch Study in Color and Black and White before I searched for the video and its exclusion from the internet comes as no surprise.

Study in Color and Black and White (SiCaBaW from this point on) is not a stinker, like Brakhage's terribly overwrought The Stars Are Beautiful.  But SiCaBaW is so slight that if this serves as someone's introduction to experimental film and comes away with no impression then I could not blame them because there's little case to be made for the quality of SiCaBaW.  It's composed primarily of darkness with the sparest amount of color, or black and white, rarely scattering in on the frame.

Now, rarely in this case is an unusually long length of time for Brakhage.  With the intrusion of the colored marks appearing sometimes seconds apart.  I typically have to play his films at 1/4 speed if I want to catch everything because of how meticulously he layers the paints in his frames.  So SiCaBaW is curious only in the context of other Brakhage films, and even then there's nothing else for me to grasp.

Of SiCaBaW, Brakhage wrote "The title is almost the whole of any possible description of this hand-painted and photographically step-printed film."  He says "almost" but, really, what else is there?  Even the title is a misnomer compared to the results where study implies delving into material that the student wishes to master.  Though at this point in his life Brakhage is no student, and there's no curiosity about SiCaBaW, just this sense of boredom that makes the usual minute and a half go by slower than normal.

I've had worse experiences with Brakhage, but I don't think I've been this bored.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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