Tuesday, July 08, 2014

dog star man prelude

i'm too tired to write anything properly, but i wanted to record something.

recently, i decided i was interested in the work of stan brakhage, probably due to things like the preceding post. i rented the discs from the library at the same time that i bought the set from the barnes and noble criterion sale, deciding that, if they were too weird, i could sell my brand new unwanted set and probably even make a little profit.

tonight i opened my set and continued watching, picking up at the prelude to dog star man.
outwardly, this is "experimental film" at it's most stereotypical. lots of indecipherably blurry camera moves, mash cut with shots of the sun, mountain forests, and extreme closeups of eyes, hair, and whatever else. often, this is overlaid with what appears to be microscopic drops of liquid and other discernible but not wholly recognizable images. and plenty of deliberate scratchings on the film, for good measure. it's all cut together at a frantic pace in a way that the only constant is the kinetic motion of everything. i even asked myself if i would give any thought to this had i unknowingly come across it at a film festival, rather than having it served to me on the silver platter that is the criterion collection.

and truthfully, not likely. at least, not if i only watched it for a minute or so. but as it went on, i started to feel that this wasn't just some dude putting any weird random images together and deeming it "Art," but that whomever was doing this knew what they were doing. and i say "feel" because that's the only way you can respond to this. there is no verbal way to describe, much less explain, what this is. outwardly, it's a mash of random images, nothing more. but after a while you do sense that there's a purpose to all of this. not necessarily a rhythm (because there isn't), and while there are images that recur--a mountain forest, the sun, a male and female body--this can't be distilled into a "theme." but you feel something.

and that's ultimately what fascinated me about this: at one about about two-thirds into the (approximately) twenty minute piece, i started to feel some emotional response. i can't even tell you what the emotion was because the film, not having any way for me to comprehensibly identify it, affected me the only way it could, on a more primal sense in the heart, not the mind. and that was an experience i don't think i've ever had with a movie or perhaps even any other work of art.

i've read of someone worried that they would wake their roommates while watching this, only to remember that it's actually a silent film; there is no sound, yet the images are so powerful and intense, it feels like it must be noisy.

after the prelude (part 1 looks to be about 25 minutes, while parts 2, 3, and 4 (are there four?) seem to be only a few minutes each; i look forward to watching them later this week), i watched the first video interview with brakhage on the disc and he talked some about dog star man, the film i had just started. he said that he was trying to imagine what the world was like to a baby who didn't know that the grass was the color green, or whose eyes did not "know" what things looked like or signified.

he kind of nailed it.

this isn't something for everything, but it's currently one of my favorite things in my collection.