Stan Brakhage: The Mammals of Victoria (1994) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Stan Brakhage: The Mammals of Victoria (1994)

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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 second "by Brakhage" volume.

The Mammals of Victoria - 1994I’m going to keep this brief today because there’s not much about today’s Stan Brakhage film, The Mammals of Victoria, that I haven’t said in previous installments. Mammals is an almost perfect collusion of the environment musing of Visions in Meditation and the cross-species extrasensory experience of The Domain of the Moment. Brakhage is contemplative, but restlessly so, with Mammals, presenting a vision of the world from a creature who is constantly shifting from one idea of reality to the next.

The stock shifts from the solid color transitions I’ve gotten used to in this second Brakhage collection, the painted film stock that was established as a Brakhage trope in the first, and the live action footage that he’s sprinkled throughout both. The transitions aren’t jarring and as the colors shift they do so gradually. The ebb and flow of perception in this film finds a calming visual metaphor in a low-angle shot of bubbles on the shore being drug back out into the ocean while mountains loom in the background. Brakhage’s film is very relaxing and encourages the viewer to breathe in rhythm with each transition.

There’s not much else to Mammals but, to be fair, it’s another one of Brakhage’s films that’s part of a larger series – in this case The Vancouver Island Quartet. So it’s entirely possible that Mammals could have been a mesmerizing experience on the same level as Visions in Meditation. But, I write with the movies that were released, not the movies I wish were released. Mammals is good for a mental cleanse, but not much for thought.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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