Stan Brakhage: I Take These Truths (1995) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Stan Brakhage: I Take These Truths (1995)

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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.

I Take These Truths - 1995Sometimes I'll rewatch a Stan Brakhage film at a quarter or eighth of its presented speed so I can contemplate the images at a slower speed.  His films usually move at a rapid clip as one of his primary modes of interest involved the way frames form after-images in the retina.  I Take These Truths moves at an unusually slow speed compared to other Brakhage films, leaving me much more time than normal to take in each frame before moving to the next.

I Take These truths is also another Brakhage film that is part of a currently unavailable trilogy with companion films We Hold These and then I...  Considering the other titles, the gentle pace of I Take These reads as contemplation on his style.  The frames of I Take These incorporate many of Brakhage's painted film techniques, spinning out into webs before going into clouds of color, beating back both the dark and the light with those different hues, and then showing solid black lines as they slowly break into the darker sections of the film.

There's a distinct theme of separation with each phase of I Take These, with either the frames being cleaved by the darkness or with one style boldly intruding on the next.  Brakhage was generous with his work and I Take These is not a selfless title, implying that there is something external to the film that Brakhage is removing to place into his frames.  The slow contemplation with each transition makes me think that Brakhage wondered what his method was doing to the world.  Was it really engaging us in a form of expression that transcends language, or was it the selfish whims of a man who liked his colors?

I believe, by the end of I Take These, Brakhage has arrived at "Both" as his answer.  There's no denying the separation that takes place during I Take These and the almost begrudging way each form gives way to the next.  But there are moments of beauty and peace amongst the division.  The most blissful comes after a sequence with dark circles, like thumbprints, dissolving into a black and white world of what look to be snowflakes dancing in the night.  This moment is a fine summation of the struggle of art - engaging in a selfish practice to bring about a sensation of togetherness and peace.  During those precious moments I was at ease watching the white delicately disappear into the dark.

Brakhage unifies evolution and peace for a short while.  I Take These is not one of Brakhage's best, but that he's still able to hit this careful balance after forty years of film making is impressive.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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