Stan Brakhage: Two: Creeley / McClure (1965) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Stan Brakhage: Two: Creeley / McClure (1965)

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Many of Stan Brakhage's films are available for viewing in multiple venues.  You can watch Two: Creeley / McClure here.

Two - Creeley-McClure - 1965Stan Brakhage's films have helped to keep my mind fresh and aware of the nearly infinite possibilities of film.  Through his lens I've looked at new techniques and been able to put different literary knowledge in a new context.  But I sometimes have trouble with his films when they are delving into a specific subject.  That is why today's film, Two: Creeley / McClure (which I'll refer to as Two from this point on), did not connect with me beyond Brakhage's considerable cinematic talents.

Two functions as a moving portrait of the two poets Robert Creeley and Michael McClure.  Creeley was the one who hired Brakhage to make The Wonder Ring in 1955 after quizzing Brakhage in a unique way.  An abstract arrangement would be placed in front of Brakhage and Creeley would ask which artists work it reminded Brakhage of.  Since Brakhage guessed correctly, he was awarded with the job of filming The Wonder Ring.  So Brakhage and Creeley, at least, were of a similar mind and unfortunately I am not familiar enough with McClure to comment on his association with Brakhage.

Based on Two, it seems their association may not have been as close as Brakhage and Creeley's.  Most of Two focuses on Creeley as he wanders throughout a sparse bedroom.  Brakhage films with a suggestion of a split self in a literal manner, mirroring the image of Creeley in the chair or standing at the window using a polarized image of the same film strips.  This seemed a relatively straightforward way of ghosting Creeley's identity, and I much preferred the less literal polar mirroring that was present in the off-kilter images of The Wonder Ring and The Dead.

Creeley's section of Two suggests a personality questioning itself.  McClure's final forty seconds of Two shows a personality in the middle of suicide.  The shots are edited relentlessly fast, switching between McClure, a cat, a woman, and an empty chair.  Brakhage did not shoot these subjects with steady photography and all the images look as though the camera is either fleeing the subject or is quickly arriving.  The images smear together as they become backlit with increasing brightness before finally dissolving into total white.  If nothing else, this part of Two looks to have been the template for music videos in the early '90s (I'm thinking NiN's "Head Like A Hole" especially), and the sudden shock of McClure's personality being ripped apart jolted my attention back on the film.

But the first two and a half minutes or so did not grab me like Brakhage's previous two films in this volume.  Even with the welcome surprise at the end of Two it felt like I needed to be more familiar with the poetry of either to get more from the film.  Technique alone didn't keep my interest in Two, no matter how well done.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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