Re: Frampton, Brakhage, RE:VOIR

From: marilyn brakhage (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Feb 17 2010 - 16:10:44 PST

Sorry, I accidentally clicked 'Send' before I was finished. . .

I'll start again:

Dear David,

The selection of titles for By Brakhage, Volume Two, was actually made
a couple of years ago, and at that time, I was, indeed, expecting that
Pip might be expanding the distribution of Anticipation of the NIght
-- but no doubt he's been busy with other projects in the meantime.
Perhaps it will happen soon.

However, as to the larger question of 'getting the big picture' of
Brakhage'a aesthetic project, here are a few of my thoughts:

1) I agree that Anticipation is a great and important work. You're
entirely right about that. And it would have been nice to have it
included in the Criterion collection. I don't agree, however, that
it's impossible to understand Brakhage without having seen that one
particular film. While it might be eminently useful in teaching
situations (teaching the early periods of his oeuvre), one doesn't
necessarily have to have seen each step (even an important one like
Anticipation) in order to get a clear sense of his larger "aesthetic
project," as you say -- which, after all, goes way, way beyond
Anticipation of the Night and Dog Star Man! (One could just as well
ask, how can we understand how he got to Anticipation of the Night
without seeing Daybreak and Whiteye, Nightcats, or Loving? . . .
Could one understand Scenes From Under Childhood without seeing Dog
Star Man? Unconscious London Strata without seeing the Songs? The
Arabics without seeing The Text of Light? The Loom without seeing,
oh, I don't know, The Shores of Phos? or maybe Tragoedia?) . . .
Well, the problem is that what we HAVE tried to do is to present a
LARGE and wide ranging view of his accomplishments, and being as large
and diverse as that IS -- it wasn't easy! BUT:

2) I've written an essay for Criterion that will be included in the
booklet accompanying the DVDs in which I explain the selection of
films. I'm not going to re-write that here, obviously. But there
really is some attempt with this collection of titles to offer some
key examples and insights into the various aesthetic and thematic
developments in his work.

3) There are great films that are missing. Without a doubt. (He made
several hundred, after all.)

4) The 30 films IN the collection are ALSO absolutely great!
Without a doubt!

5) Of course I understand that many people will have differing
opinions on what should have been included. There are a number of
different approaches that might have been taken. And of course, there
are many more films that I, too, would have liked to have included!

6) I wasn't thinking of this collection ONLY as a university teaching
tool, though. I hope it will have a wide and diverse audience.

7) A few other Brakhage films already released on DVD elsewhere:
Interim, Unglassed Windows Cast A Terrible Reflection, The Way to
Shadow Garden and The Extraordinary Child -- distributed by KINO.
These transfers were done without consulting me -- from source
materials of dubious quality, therefore -- and Unglassed Windows and
The Extraordinary Child were very early films that Stan had long, long
ago decided to withdraw from distribution. However. . . .

Also, The Riddle of Lumen is on the NFPF's Treasures IV. This one IS
a good quality transfer, within a great collection of avant-garde work.

8) I understand, as you've made clear before, that you are not
someone who can or will be renting film prints. Nevertheless, there
certainly are other people and places who do and will. And so of
course I also hope that all of these, AND all the other great Brakhage
films that are NOT yet digitally available, will continue to show up
in film screenings from time to time.

In the meantime, it's absolutely fantastic that Criterion has been so
dedicated to the presentation of this much important avant-garde work
-- by Brakhage, soon by Frampton, and possibly more to come.

I'm very excited that this new and wonderful collection of films will
soon be available, and I hope that many Frameworkers (and others) will
greatly enjoy it. And I really believe they will.

All best,

On 15-Feb-10, at 11:53 AM, David Tetzlaff wrote:

> hanks Marilyn, for your explanation about Anticipation. None of us
> can fault anyone for showing consideration to Pip, who graciously
> provides this forum for us and works so hart to support the work we
> care about.
> The fact remains, though, that the RE:VOIR version of Anticipation
> is only available in PAL, only on VHS, and does not seem to be
> distributed in the US. All of these seriously limit the work's
> accessibility to the broad audience it deserves (spare me 'rent the
> print' posts, we're already comparing video sales to video sales.)
> If you're trying to explain Brakhage to anyone, as part of a class,
> or just informally, how do you NOT talk about the ideas from
> Metaphors and Vision, and then illustrate the move away from
> representation to hypnogogic vision in Anticipation? If you have
> what comes before (I really love Way to Shadow Garden from Treasures
> 4 as a precursor) and what comes after (DSM and on) but leave out
> the hole in the middle, it just seems to me like you cripple the
> attempt to get the big picture of Brakhage's aesthetic project. And
> since I think that big picture is really fascinating, I think that's
> a damn shame.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.