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Stan Brakhage (1933 - 2003)

Lifespan: 1933 - 2003

Related: experimental film - American cinema - director

By Brakhage - Anthology (2003) - Stan Brakhage [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Stan Brakhage (January 14, 1933 - March 9, 2003) was an American filmmaker. He is regarded as one of the most important experimental filmmakers of the 20th century.

Brakhage was born as Robert Sanders in an orphanage in Kansas City, Missouri. Two weeks after his birth, he was adopted by Ludwig and Clara Brakhage, and he was given the name James Stanley Brakhage.

As a child, he appeared on radio as a boy soprano before going to high school in Central City, Colorado and then dropping out of Dartmouth College after just two months to make films. He was influeced by the writings of Sergei Eisenstein and the films of Jean Cocteau as well as the Italian neo-realism movement. His first film, Interim (1952), was in the neo-realist style and had music by James Tenney.

In 1954, Brakhage moved to New York City where he associated with a number of contemporary artists, among them the poets Robert Creeley and Kenneth Rexroth and the abstract expressionist painters.

Brakhage's film are usually abstract and lack a traditional story. They are also generally silent, thus emphasising their visual element which Brakhage thought more fundamental to film than sound. His films range in length from just a few seconds to several hours, but most last between two or three minutes and one hour. Most of his work was done in 8mm or 16mm film, and he frequently hand-painted the film or scratched the image directly into the film emulsion, and sometimes used collage techniques. For Mothlight (1963), for example, he stuck moth wings onto tape and made prints from it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Brakhage

By Brakhage - Anthology (2003) - Stan Brakhage

    By Brakhage - Anthology (2003) - Stan Brakhage [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    While you go out to see most other kinds of movies, you must go inward to see the extraordinary avant-garde films of Stan Brakhage. Foremost among American experimental film artists, Brakhage influenced the evolution of the moving image for nearly 50 years (his impact is readily seen on MTV), and this meticulously prepared Criterion Collection anthology represents a virtual goldmine of Brakhage's finest, most challenging work. Challenging because--as observed by Brakhage film scholar Fred Camper in the accompanying booklet--these 26 carefully selected films require the viewer to be fully receptive to "the act of seeing with one's own eyes" (to quote the title of one film, consisting entirely of autopsy footage), which is to say, open to the perceptual and psychological responses that are provoked by Brakhage's non-narrative shorts, ranging here from nine seconds to 31 minutes in length. While "Dog Star Man" (1961-64) is regarded as Brakhage's masterpiece, what emerges from this superb collection is the creative coherence of Brakhage's total vision. Through multilayered textures (often painted or scratched directly on film) and infinite combinations of imagery and rhythmic cutting, these films (most of them soundless) represent the most daring and purely artistic fulfillment of Criterion's ongoing goal to preserve important films on DVD. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

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