Films by Stan Brakhage | Chicago Reader

Films by Stan Brakhage

Fifteen short silent films by Stan Brakhage, a master poet of subjective vision. They span four decades and a variety of styles, requiring some flexibility on the viewer's part, but many of them rank with the filmmaker's best. Songs 1-7 (1966), from a series of 31, shows the intensity of Brakhage's first-person perspective (shot in 8-millimeter, it's been enlarged to 16-millimeter for current distribution). Song 7 is a portrait of San Francisco in which the rooftops, the hilly topography, the ocean twisting as the camera rotates, and the diagonals formed by fingers in front of the lens become a tapestry of dynamically interacting lines and surfaces. The abstract Romans III (1980) constantly shifts one's attention within the frame, while a rapidly jiggling camera suggests the signals of the human nervous system. The Dante Quartet (1987), painted over photographed imagery, is one of Brakhage's lushest works: in the “Purgation” segment, colors and images collide with and grind against each other, and in “Existence Is Song,” contrasting colors, moonscapes, and volcanoes burst forth like an acre of flowers blooming. Also showing: Creation (1979), Arabics 1-3 (1980), Cat of the Worm's Green Realm (1997), and Commingled Containers (1997). 102 min.

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