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By Brakhage: Anthology

Jane Brakhage , Stan Brakhage , Stan Brakhage    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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While you go out to see most other kinds of movies, you must go inward to see the extraordinary avant-garde films of Stan Brakhage. Foremost among American experimental film artists, Brakhage influenced the evolution of the moving image for nearly 50 years (his impact is readily seen on MTV), and this meticulously prepared Criterion Collection anthology represents a virtual goldmine of Brakhage's finest, most challenging work. Challenging because--as observed by Brakhage film scholar Fred Camper in the accompanying booklet--these 26 carefully selected films require the viewer to be fully receptive to "the act of seeing with one's own eyes" (to quote the title of one film, consisting entirely of autopsy footage), which is to say, open to the perceptual and psychological responses that are provoked by Brakhage's non-narrative shorts, ranging here from nine seconds to 31 minutes in length. While "Dog Star Man" (1961-64) is regarded as Brakhage's masterpiece, what emerges from this superb collection is the creative coherence of Brakhage's total vision. Through multilayered textures (often painted or scratched directly on film) and infinite combinations of imagery and rhythmic cutting, these films (most of them soundless) represent the most daring and purely artistic fulfillment of Criterion's ongoing goal to preserve important films on DVD. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Working completely outside the mainstream, Stan Brakhage has made nearly 400 films over the past half century. Challenging all taboos in his exploration of "birth, sex, death, and the search for God," Brakhage has turned his camera on explicit lovemaking, childbirth, even actual autopsy. Many of his most famous works pursue the nature of vision itself and transcend the act of filming. Some, including the legendary Mothlight, were made without using a camera at all. Instead, Brakhage has pioneered the art of making images directly on film itself––starting with clear leader or exposed film, then drawing, painting, and scratching it by hand. Treating each frame as a miniature canvas, Brakhage can produce only a quarter- to a half-second of film a day, but his visionary style of image-making has changed everything from cartoons and television commercials to MTV music videos and the work of such mainstream moviemakers as Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Oliver Stone.

Criterion is proud to present 26 masterworks by Stan Brakhage in high-definition digital transfers made from newly minted film elements. For the first time on DVD, viewers will be able to look at Brakhage's meticulously crafted frames one by one.


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Aug. 9 2003
I had heard about Stan Brakhage and his films long before coming across this collection, and now I wish there were a few more disks here. Stan Brakhage was very prolific, and this is only a portion of his work-- although it does include "Dog Star Man" in its entirety.
For those who haven't seen Brakhage's films: most of the films on this collection are silent (although there are separate commentary tracks for each one) and many of them either rely on rapid cutting or are painted directly onto the film. It would be difficult to watch the whole collection at once because of the stroboscopic effect that Brakhage achieves; I would advise taking a break beween films in order to let your eyes go back to normal. In any case, these movies weren't meant to be watched in one big lump; this is a great collection to dip into when you're in the mood.
A word about the transfer: the colors in the painted films are the most vibrant I've seen on a DVD; kudos to the technical people involved in the video transfer.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but not perfect. July 24 2003
I'm reluctant to air my disappointment amongst so many glowing 5-star reviews, but honestly, I felt a little cheated after watching this collection. According to the copy on the back of the box, Brakhage made "nearly 400 films" over the last fifty years. I'm sure more than half of those films were brilliant and fascinating. Unfortunately, this anthology is heavily weighted towards the last fifteen years of Brakhage's career, when he developed an almost unhealthy obsession for abstract painting directly on film stock. These works are, as I said, abstract. They are formless, kinetic, and actually quite fascinating ... for the first 2 minutes. But after that you start to get the feeling that you are watching static. Slight variations in color sheme, speed, and direction of movement do not save these pieces from all looking the same. And 17 of the 26 films in this collection are Brakhage's "painted static." Three would have sufficed, leaving room for more variety of Brakhage's earlier work. I made the mistake of trying to watch disc 2 all in one sitting, and I could not. The painted pieces are hypnotic, and let's face it, BORING. I could not keep my eyes open. I recommend it for insomniacs.
Before you start objecting that I "just don't get" these films: I went to art school, I know all the B.S. that artists use to justify such work, and I don't believe any of it. Artwork should be able to stand on its own, and most of these painted films do not. If you have to explain your art, and make excuses for it, then you have failed in conveying your message, and you have failed aesthetically.
Don't get me wrong. Brakhage was a genius. I actually saw him in person at a festival back in 1996.
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5.0 out of 5 stars be sure b 4 u buy!!!! June 20 2004
be warned!this dvd is not going to appeal to the "average joe" because it doesn't make much sense and is to be considered art.if that actually sounds trippy to you,you'll probably love it as I do!this is the perfect example of just why dvd's are such an improved format versus vhs-many of the images mr brakhage presents to the viewer go by so quickly you find it hard to distinguish what they look like,or somtimes there is a frame that looks so trippy you just have to pause it.and that is the real treat-the fact that you can pause the frames(to have these films on vhs format would absolutly suck because it would look so crappy paused).another good thing about the dvd is stan's commentary on most of the films.he helps the viewer to put into perspective his ideas on what he hoped to accomplish or put forth on each film.the squeamish will want to steer clear of the film with the autopsy footage,but all the others should be acceptable to most folks.
the bottom line is that it's a great dvd that'll provide hours upon hours of entertainment,and any lover of the arts should grab this one up!(one thing I found that makes for an even more interesting experience while watching the films is to put on some music because most of them are silent.some musical suggestings to go along are buckethead's "electric tears",any angelo badalamenti movie score,litsz' dante symphony,any kronos quartet,and of coarse philip glass.these are all pretty mellow cd's with lots of "color" to them with goes VERY well with the overall tempo of the films.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars be sure b 4 u buy!!!! June 19 2004
be warned!this dvd is not going to appeal to the "average joe" because it doesn't make much sense and is to be considered art.if that actually sounds trippy to you,you'll probably love it as I do!this is the perfect example of just why dvd's are such an improved format versus vhs-many of the images mr brakhage presents to the viewer go by so quickly you find it hard to distinguish what they look like,or somtimes there is a frame that looks so trippy you just have to pause it.and that is the real treat-the fact that you can pause the frames.another good thing about the dvd is stan's commentary on most of the films.he helps the veiwer to put into perspective his ideas on what he hoped to accomplish or put forth on each film.the squeamish will want to steer clear of the film with the autopsy footage,but all the others should be acceptable to most folks.
the bottom line is that it's a great dvd that'll provide hours upon hours of entertainment,and any lover of the arts should grab this one up!(one thing I found that makes for an even more interesting experience while watching the films is to put on some music because most of them are silent.some musical suggestings to go along are buckethead's "electric tears",any angelo badalamenti movie score,litsz' dante symphony,any kronos quartet,and of coarse philip glass.these are all pretty mellow cd's with lots of "color" to them with goes VERY well with the overall tempo of the films.)
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars near worthless
never before has a film gone from my dvd player to the sell pile on my desk in such a rush.
when i read that his 'visionary style' had influences seen on MTV and major motion... Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by "shockwave515"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting Overview of a Life's Work in Film
This two-disc DVD set contains twenty-six experimental films by Stan Brakhage. The total playing time is approximately two hundred and forty-three minutes. Read more
Published on April 25 2004 by Nicholas Croft
5.0 out of 5 stars "An Artistic Epiphany"
The eye is an extention of the brain, as Brakhage himself says. There is also a sort of mid-region between eye and brain: the mind's eye, that which interprets and analyses what we... Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2004 by "mikethecommie"
1.0 out of 5 stars tedious experimentalism
I'm really trying to see the value in these films. There's obviously no narrative, so the films would have to rely on beauty of composition. Sadly, there is none of that. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by Django
5.0 out of 5 stars not for everyone, but worth a look for the serious cineaste
I had no previous experience with Brakhage's work before I bought this 2-disc set and I must say it is difficult viewing. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by scharl
4.0 out of 5 stars A Strange Selection
This is a great collection of films by the renowned avante-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage; if you want to see Brakhage's films, THIS is the best video transfer you're ever likely to... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2003 by C. G. Gross
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Films
Beautiful, moving films gorgeously transferred to DVD by the ever-reliable folks at the Criterion Collection. The packaging is excellent, the commentary and notes informative. Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2003 by Tom From NY
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This is an excellent collection of Brackhage movies. The quality is top notch. There is also some interesting interviev footage included. Read more
Published on July 16 2003 by David Cammack
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Important DVD Release of the Year
Largely unknown and unheralded at the time of his demise, Stan Brakhage's films constitute a sustained meditation. Read more
Published on July 8 2003 by Nowhere Man
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