The Films of Stan Brakhage Archives - Page 2 of 11 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
10Feb/150

Stan Brakhage: The Cat and the Worm’s Green Realm (1997)

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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 Cat of the Worm's Green Realm - 1997Last week's Stan Brakhage film I Take These Truths emphasized longer takes in a painted format.  This week's The Cat and the Worm's Green Realm stretches Brakhage's live-action films through lengthier shots of the natural landscapes he edits together.  I'm curious how the remaining films in this collection will treat time as the years progress.  They're calmer, more contemplative, less emotionally intense and more willing to embrace the small moments between the frames instead of leaving images burned into our retinas.

I have to wonder how much this relates to his health.  Doctors diagnosed Brakhage with bladder cancer just a year before The Cat and the Worm's Green Realm was released, and with Brakhage facing his own mortality he must have been in a mood to slow his compositions down just a tad.  With a few films to go I suppose I'll get answers to my hypothesis sooner rather than later, but with The Cat (shortened title from this point on) Brakhage portrays a threat of experience throughout all of existence.

4Feb/150

Stan Brakhage: I Take These Truths (1995)

If you enjoy Can't Stop the Movies, contributions help me eat and pay rent. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution via PayPal.

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.

29Jan/150

Stan Brakhage: From: First Hymn to the Night – Novalis (1994)

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Many of Stan Brakhage's films are available for viewing in multiple venues.  You can watch From: First Hymn to the Night - Novalis here.

From - First Hymn to the Night-Novalis - 1994I love when Stan Brakhage uses his craft to create a film that puts his work in direct conversation with another piece of literature.  In this cast the title of From: First Hymn to the Night - Novalis, is almost the same title of the poem upon which the film is based.  The poem is a gorgeous piece of writing, and considering the great results Brakhage had with The Dante Quartet, I had high hopes for First Hymn to the Night.

Those hopes quickly transformed into peace and contentment as First Hymn to the Night is a rare Brakhage film in this second volume that relies primarily on his paints.  Unlike The Dante Quartet, First Hymn to the Night is less a film that is in conversation with the source material and more a poetic reflection of it.  The overall means of doing so is admittedly a bit disappointing as Brakhage selects different parts of the text and then paints a reflection of the words.  But the results is not unlike prayer, and one that embraces the deep wonder of death and the night.

27Jan/150

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.

23Jan/150

Stan Brakhage: Boulder Blues and Pearls and… (1993)

If you enjoy Can't Stop the Movies, contributions help me eat and pay rent. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution via PayPal.

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.

Boulder Blues and Pearls and... - 1992As I've gone through this second collection of Stan Brakhage films I keep thinking how well his work would synch up with music but could never think of the right style.  A lot of the black and white portions of his films seem like they would work well with industrial, but Brakhage is rarely that overtly violent with his images.  It wasn't until the low electric hum of Boulder Blues and Pearls and... kicked in along with rigidly lined paints that I realized industrial is only a fit on the surface.  The rhythm of most Brakhage films would better fit experimental electronic artists like Aphex Twin or, more recently, Juan Atkins.

They're such great fits for each other because of the way each takes a genre with already uncertain borders and create rigid spaces to fight against.  Boulder Blues dips into what could be considered some of the most conventional imagery Brakhage has implemented in his films.  But conventional here works in the same way Aphex Twin, along with fellow unconventional composer Philip Glass, used a popular song, David Bowie's "Heroes", and made it into a dangerous romantic's anthem to insanity.  Brakhage takes familiar images like pinball machines, clocks, and the nature he's returned to time and again, then funnels them through a nervous system on the verge of imploding as it tries to comprehend its own existence.