The film’s second part is quite distinct from its first, perhaps primarily because it’s divided into several sections, including one devoted to Peter Kubelka’s Vienna and Brakhage’s Vienna, one to Freud, one to Nietszhe, one to East Berlin, and a Coda. Part 2 opens with a lovely prelude that returns to the light and sky motif by combining a mesmeric image of city nightlights (cars, streetlights, buildings) superimposed on images of skies as the lights rush by as if on a freeway. Overall, Part 2 is more meditative than 1, more impressionistic and humanistic. Images of war and destruction are almost gone, only intruding like invading ghosts of memory.
Kubelka’s Vienna primarily juxtaposes a flute (?) player lit by a glowing, hovering lamp with a couple and child as they walk the streets, intercut with a crosswalk sign that flashes between green and red. Brakhage’s Vienna contrasts even more tangible scenes of human life and interactions with shadowy, anthropomorphic undulations. Later, many of the war symbols recapitulate, most memorably the graffiti/cave drawings, but are redeemed by the iconography of crucifixes. Freud’s section is primarily filtered in green and full of evocative urban architecture spliced together. Here, the red motif returns in monotone flashes as a potent reminder of ever-lurking death. Nietzsche’s section is more abstract; images of gore, warplanes and other machines clash against Brakhage’s most varied and visceral film painting. East Berlin is a haunting, dark (but brief) ode to the city. The film closes with a coda, bringing us back to the sanctuary of nature, art and music before ending with a mysterious superimposition of children playing around a donkey with sparklers (an allusion to Bresson’s Balthazar perhaps?). —cinelogue.com
James Stanley Brakhage (January 14, 1933 – March 9, 2003), better known as Stan Brakhage, was an American non-narrative filmmaker who is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th century experimental film.
Over the course of five decades, Brakhage created a large and diverse body of work, exploring a variety of formats, approaches and techniques that included handheld camerawork, painting directly onto celluloid, fast cutting, in-camera editing, scratching on film and the use of multiple exposures. Interested in mythology and inspired by music, poetry and visual phenomena, Brakhage sought to reveal the universal in the particular, exploring themes of birth, mortality, sexuality and innocence.
Brakhage’s films are often noted for their expressiveness and lyricism.
Born Robert Sanders in Kansas City, Missouri on June 14, 1933, Brakhage was adopted and renamed three weeks after his birth by Ludwig and Clara Brakhage.
As a child, Brakhage was… read more