184, 517-518 by Brakhage: An Anthology (Volumes One and Two)

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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senseabove
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Re: 184, 517-518 by Brakhage: An Anthology (Volumes One and

#276 Post by senseabove » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:58 pm

Has anyone seen the Re:Voir Blu of Anticipation yet?

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hearthesilence
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Re: 184, 517-518 by Brakhage: An Anthology (Volumes One and

#277 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:10 pm

Caught some shorts at MoMI today including The Dante Quartet (included on this set) which was projected in 35mm and the Chartres series (sadly BUT understandably not on this set) which I hadn’t seen before and was projected in 16mm. The former came 7 years before the Chartres series and in some ways I feel like the methods used to create it are more refined on the Chartes series (for starters the paint is occasionally dried and cracked on the former whereas on the latter it looks like a more “infused” application). Regardless they both look astonishing and with the latter Brakhage hits on an idea that beautifully plays off the sentiment that the cinema is like a church - what other art form can approach or match the wonder of stained glass art? And it could only have worked in film (and could only be projected through a film print) and not in any other format.

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Mr Sausage
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Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#278 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:24 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, March 2nd.

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swo17
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#279 Post by swo17 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:35 am

Well, here it is as promised, Black Ice as a series of individual image files. I think I did this several years ago watching the Criterion DVD in slow motion while constantly taking screenshots. It can be cool to progress through the images at your own pace, replicating the film at various speeds

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knives
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#280 Post by knives » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:57 am

Thanks Swo.

Going back to something Sausage said, I tend to feel rather indifferent to a lot of Brakhage's painted experiments, but there is the occasional one that hits me very hard. This and Murder Psalm, which is a fair bit different, are the ones that hit me the most strongly and force me to go back to. I wonder then what makes Black Ice a powerful experience while something superficially similar like the Love Song I forget about rather easily?

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swo17
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#281 Post by swo17 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:18 pm

Could it be the background behind its making, as it was his artistic response to a fall that permanently damaged his sight?

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knives
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#282 Post by knives » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:46 pm

swo17 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:18 pm
Could it be the background behind its making, as it was his artistic response to a fall that permanently damaged his sight?
I didn't know that.

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zedz
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#283 Post by zedz » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:53 pm

I love Brakhage, but I'm particularly fond of Black Ice, as it gives me a sense of vertigo, like I'm continuously falling into the screen, which is appropriate in terms of the 'subject matter', but also just really cool as a quasi-physical / aesthetic experience.

And, like most of his purely abstract, painted films, I just find it beautiful to look at, image by image - so thanks, swo! If I saw these images in a gallery, I'd think "that was a great show." Having them loaded up into a gun and fired directly into your brain all at once is like involuntarily speed-reading art, and I find that sensation intoxicating.

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zedz
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#284 Post by zedz » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:56 pm

Just a little note for contributors who want to talk about both films: if you keep your comments to discrete posts it will be a lot easier for the mods to disentangle this thread and relocate the discussion to the appropriate disc threads!

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zedz
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#285 Post by zedz » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:13 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:57 am
Thanks Swo.

Going back to something Sausage said, I tend to feel rather indifferent to a lot of Brakhage's painted experiments, but there is the occasional one that hits me very hard. This and Murder Psalm, which is a fair bit different, are the ones that hit me the most strongly and force me to go back to. I wonder then what makes Black Ice a powerful experience while something superficially similar like the Love Song I forget about rather easily?
I think it's fine that different films resonate with you. I love the Persian Series, but there's one particular film in that series that hits me with a force the others lack, that's transformative rather than just ecstatically pretty. I can't figure out what, if anything, that film does that the others don't, and it might just be that the fleeting compositions or colour combinations strike an invisible chord with me.

A lot of experimental film, and particularly ones that aren't 'shot' conventionally, can be easier understood as artistic processes that result in a film, and even the filmmaker may not know exactly how the film will 'play' once it's completed. This is particularly the case with structuralist film, where the filmmaker might just be submitting to a 'recipe' that was determined intellectually before a frame of footage was even shot. It's all part of the R&D component of experimental filmmaking, and it's not much of an experiment if you already know exactly what the outcome is going to be.

One of the reasons I value experimental films, apart from their scratching of an aesthetic itch that narrative films generally don't even know exists, is for those transformative moments that occur when everything mysteriously comes together. It's like going to a Tony Conrad performance and hearing one note on amplified violin, then a second violin comes in, and you're hearing one note in stereo for a while, and some extraneous buzzing, then the buzzing disappears and you're back to two notes, one note, two notes . . . and then suddenly the cosmos opens up before you.

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swo17
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#286 Post by swo17 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:15 pm

zedz wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:53 pm
I love Brakhage, but I'm particularly fond of Black Ice, as it gives me a sense of vertigo, like I'm continuously falling into the screen, which is appropriate in terms of the 'subject matter', but also just really cool as a quasi-physical / aesthetic experience.
The feeling of falling is unique to this film, aided by the collaboration with Sam Bush, who I gather added the effect with an optical printer.
zedz wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:13 pm
A lot of experimental film, and particularly ones that aren't 'shot' conventionally, can be easier understood as artistic processes that result in a film, and even the filmmaker may not know exactly how the film will 'play' once it's completed. This is particularly the case with structuralist film, where the filmmaker might just be submitting to a 'recipe' that was determined intellectually before a frame of footage was even shot. It's all part of the R&D component of experimental filmmaking, and it's not much of an experiment if you already know exactly what the outcome is going to be.

One of the reasons I value experimental films, apart from their scratching of an aesthetic itch that narrative films generally don't even know exists, is for those transformative moments that occur when everything mysteriously comes together. It's like going to a Tony Conrad performance and hearing one note on amplified violin, then a second violin comes in, and you're hearing one note in stereo for a while, and some extraneous buzzing, then the buzzing disappears and you're back to two notes, one note, two notes . . . and then suddenly the cosmos opens up before you.
Very well said

knives wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:46 pm
swo17 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:18 pm
Could it be the background behind its making, as it was his artistic response to a fall that permanently damaged his sight?
I didn't know that.
In Brakhage's own words:
Stan Brakhage wrote:I lost sight due a blow on the head from slipping on black ice (leading to eye surgery, eventually); and now (because of artificially thinned blood) most steps I take outdoors all winter are made in frightful awareness of black ice. These "meditations" have finally produced this hand-painted, step-printed film.

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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#287 Post by WmS » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:56 pm

There's a lot of good background on Brakhage's working process in this hefty post-screening talk with Mark Toscano, who has been restoring his films for fifteen years at the Academy Film Archive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcji3_07Zf8

Of interest here is that when he worked with Sam Bush, Brakhage would provide him with materials and a set of instructions. In some cases, the materials might be a film loop, rather than a start-to-finish painted filmstrip. It explains the superimposition effects, the varying frame rates, and the final title card talking about "score" and "visual musician."

The 90s hand-painted films always feel very clean to me; the depth effects, for instance, are also seen in Persian Series #3 and some others, just as Stellar also uses still frames and dissolves at the beginning. Apparently when Bush was laid off Brakhage learned how to use an optical printer from his student Mary Beth Reed, so the later optical printed films appear less precise-- I assume referring to registration and gate weave, since I haven't seen the ones Toscano talks about in the video.

Flipping through Swo's stills collection, it looks like there are two, maybe three layers in this one. I think there's a layer of mostly black ground, and in its empty spaces come through another layer step-printed at 12 fps, and maybe another on top of that. Which is to say I see an interplay between aleatory, in superimposing multiple loops and seeing what syncs up as they run, and deliberately plotting things out.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#288 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:10 pm

zedz wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:56 pm
Just a little note for contributors who want to talk about both films: if you keep your comments to discrete posts it will be a lot easier for the mods to disentangle this thread and relocate the discussion to the appropriate disc threads!
Just to reiterate: please discuss each short in separate posts.

kidc
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#289 Post by kidc » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:02 pm

I really enjoy how Black Ice is as accessible as Brakhage gets: unambiguous title, universal concept, unmistakably evoked. I've shown multiple people this film and whilst not all of them care to watch more, or appreciate it more than a quirky optical illusion, it's such a clear film that regardless of your opinion of the avant-garde, in this case you can't help but agree that the Emperor is actually wearing clothes.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#290 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:08 pm

I showed Black Ice to a few people to unanimously hostile, sometimes even angry reactions. I gave up showing Brakhage films after that.

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Re: Black Ice & Hotel Chevalier

#291 Post by Super_Jesus » Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:06 am

I am a junior high art teacher and advise an after school Film Club (gearing them up to develop their own original short films). Coincidentally, the day this topic was posted, was the day I introduced them examples of experimental films. I showed them Stellar, Black Ice (along with some scenes from David Lynch’s shorts, Koyaanisqatsi, and Jan Švankmajer‘a Alice). If it gives anyone hope, these teenagers were puzzled but didn’t reject them. They easily grasped — and were captivated by — the sense of falling. The idea of a “film” evoking a feeling in lieu of a narrative structure kinda blew their minds...which was my hope and intent.

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