Today’s discussion went in depth on the film The Celebration, and I was not able to share what I had prepared about the Brakhage article as much as I would have liked. What I did say ended up not making sense because of anxiety and not really knowing how to connect what I had prepared to where the class conversation was at that point. So, I thought I’d share more here!
Some background – Stan Brakhage became so famous in the first place due to the fact that his style was so radical and unheard of for its time, and at first not widely understood. Then all of the sudden he had made 400 films and was widely recognized in a kind of avant-garde way. However, this was not to say he was a traditional avant-garde filmmaker, for his work was more an expression of his emotions than just projecting realism.
Brakhage wanted to promote a “new type of cinema that intends to film not the world itself, but the act of seeing the world, previously unimagined and undefined by conventions of representation.” Essentially, he thought that feelings we have that are brought up due to visuals while watching a film cannot be separated from our ability to think, and therefore our personal feelings are what drives the success of a film.
I wanted to ask what the class thought of his definition of film and his disagreement with the French idea that “cinematographer means writer of movement”, or a reliance on literature and theatrical performance rather than camera work. I feel like there needs to be a focus on both for a film to be the most popular and accepted/understood by the masses. He feels that film should be about “Light Moving in Time”.
The other question I was hoping to bring up in class was about his ideas of other forms of art, more specifically painting and music, and how the aesthetic is much more interesting and important to him than what is being represented. Why do the aspects of form versus content have to be separated in art or film? I feel that it depends on the type of film whether the angles, cinematography, etc. are what is most important or if the narrative or plot should take up more of the focus.
Anyways, thanks for reading and I apologize for not being super clear during class! I hope everyone has a great break.