Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Stan Brakhage
USA 1954 - 2001

Working completely outside the mainstream, the wildly prolific, visionary Stan Brakhage made more than 350 films over a half century. Challenging all taboos in his exploration of “birth, sex, death, and the search for God,” he has turned his camera on explicit lovemaking, childbirth, even 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, as he pioneered the art of making images directly on film, by drawing, painting, and scratching. Criterion is proud to present twenty-six masterworks by Stan Brakhage.

***

Stan Brakhage is one of the true giants of the American avant-garde cinema, a pioneer who constantly pushed the envelope and who, in the process, forever altered our conception of what cinema can be. Like John Cage in music and Jackson Pollock in painting, Brakhage always tried to widen the boundaries of his medium, a relentless innovator who actually challenged the ways in which films are conceived. He pioneered the process of hand-painted films, in which he painted directly onto the filmstrip itself, and broke all rules of cinematography, editing, sound and framing. But Brakhage did not only innovate the technical aspects of filmmaking; he also challenged all taboos as to what art can be, and presented us with factual images of sex, childbirth and even an autopsy, taking in question the moral boundaries of art. Whatever you think of his work, it cannot be easily discarded, for his work is not only totally unique, it presents us with the endless possibilities of the wonderful medium that is film.

This 2 disc set from Criterion brings together 30 works of his voluminous oeuvre. One of the undisputed highpoints on this disc is the complete ‘Dog Star Man’, arguably Brakhage’s best work and certainly his most famous one. While it is in fact a shortened version of the four hour ‘The Art of Vision’, it is one of Brakhage’s most radical and accomplished works. Of course there are numerous other highpoints on these discs and fans of Brakhage’s work will find themselves returning to several films over and over again. True lovers will miss some of their favorite films (personally I would have loved to see ‘Creation’ and ‘Anticipation of the Night’ included), but when a choice has to be made from more than 600 films, this is bound to happen. Overall this is an incredible package that gives a very good insight in the pioneering works of Stan Brakhage and one that guarantees hours of viewing pleasure.

Maikel Aarts

Reviews     DVD Reviews

Comparison: 

Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Criterion Collection Spine #184

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion Collection Spine #518

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 3:55:27 (total) 3:55:27 (total Vol. 1)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.86 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 48,686,331,717 bytes

Feature Size: 19,932,303,360 bytes (Dogstar) +

Average Bitrate: 22.95 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate Blu-ray

Audio Monaural/Silent Monaural/Silent
Subtitles None None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• New digital transfers of 26 films
• Video encounters with the filmmaker
• Reflections on selected films by Stan Brakhage
• Essay by Brakhage expert Fred Camper

DVD Release Date: June 10, 2003
Double thick Keep Case

Chapters 4X

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

 

Disc Size: 48,686,331,717 bytes

Feature Size: 19,932,303,360 bytes +

Average Bitrate: 22.95 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Brakhage on Brakhage, three video encounters with the filmmaker
For Stan, a 2009 short film by Brakhage’s wife, Marilyn Brakhage
• Two segments from a 1990 video interview with Brakhage for the Boulder Arts Commission
• Footage from Brakhage’s Sunday salons at the University of Colorado
• Audio recordings of two lectures by Brakhage, one from the Beckwith Lecture Series and one on Gertrude Stein’s poem Stanzas in Meditation
• 94-page liner notes booklet featuring a foreword and program notes by Marilyn Brakhage, film capsules and an essay by Brakhage expert Fred Camper, and an essay on the films’ preservation by Mark Toscano of the Academy Film Archive

Blu-ray Release Date: May 25th, 2010
Custom case

 

Comments NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION - Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray May 2010: Selfishly, I have only re-watched 'Vol. 1' hoping to enjoy Vol. 2, the second and third disc of this double-part set, this weekend by lonesome - with the family asleep. I concur with Maikel's comments below in regard to not being able to make any definitive statements as to what these works were intended to look like - but we can compare to the previous DVD (Vol. 1 an easy addition to our Desert Island Disc listing HERE). Probably the most distinguishing characteristic between the two (SD vs. HD) in this case is the rendition of colors in the more 'painterly' features. These works penetrate on an almost exclusively visual level and the higher resolution benefits the presentation more than one might anticipate from looking at the screen captures below. The majority of the shorts are in 16mm and hence the grain is brought out to a more prominent degree giving the films some wonderful texture and depth. It took a cuss-of-a-time matching the un-timed screen captures below and I don't think I can add much more about the video. We've been here before with transfers of this nature - and detail seems like the lesser attribute of improvement. However, if you have any ambivalence as to the superiority of the 1080P consider that the entire contents, almost 4 hours, of the first DVD package is housed on one disc plus you get the second volume - which amount to a mammoth set containing:

DESISTFILM
1954 • 6 minutes, 48 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
WEDLOCK HOUSE: AN INTERCOURSE
1959 • 10 minutes, 47 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
DOG STAR MAN
1961–64 • 74 minutes, 34 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
THE ACT OF SEEING WITH ONE’S OWN EYES
1971 • 31 minutes, 50 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
CAT’S CRADLE
1959 • 6 minutes, 16 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING
1959 • 12 minutes, 11 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
MOTHLIGHT
1963 • 3 minutes, 13 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
EYE MYTH
1967 • 9 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
THE WOLD-SHADOW
1972 • 2 minutes, 24 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS
1981 • 1 minute, 43 seconds • 35 mm • Silent
THE STARS ARE BEAUTIFUL
1974 • 18 minutes, 27 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
KINDERING
1987 • 2 minutes, 51 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
I . . . DREAMING
1988 • 6 minutes, 35 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
THE DANTE QUARTET
1987 • 6 minutes, 3 seconds • 35 mm • Silent
NIGHT MUSIC
1986 • 30 seconds • 35 mm • Silent
RAGE NET
1988 • 35 seconds • 35 mm • Silent
GLAZE OF CATHEXIS
1990 • 35 seconds • 35 mm • Silent
DELICACIES OF MOLTEN HORROR SYNAPSE
1990 • 8 minutes, 16 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
UNTITLED (FOR MARILYN)
1992 • 10 minutes, 27 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
BLACK ICE
1994 • 1 minute, 49 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
STUDY IN COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE
1993 • 1 minute, 35 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
STELLAR
1993 • 2 minutes, 19 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
CRACK GLASS EULOGY
1991 • 6 minutes, 6 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
THE DARK TOWER
1999 • 2 minutes, 19 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
COMMINGLED CONTAINERS
1996 • 2 minutes, 42 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
LOVESONG
2001 • 10 minutes, 48 seconds • 16 mm • Silent

Brakhage on Brakhage, four video encounters with the filmmaker
Audio remarks on selected films by director Stan Brakhage


VOLUME TWO (TWO DISCS)

New high-definition digital transfers of all thirty films (with uncompressed audio for those with sound):
Disc One
Program 1: 1955–67
THE WONDER RING
1955 • 5 minutes, 34 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
THE DEAD
1960 • 10 minutes, 21 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
TWO: CREELEY/MCCLURE
1965 • 3 minutes, 11 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
23RD PSALM BRANCH
1967 • 63 minutes, 47 seconds • 8 mm • Silent
Program 2: 1967–76
SCENES FROM UNDER CHILDHOOD, SECTION ONE
1967 • 23 minutes, 46 seconds • 16 mm • Silent/Monaural
THE MACHINE OF EDEN
1970 • 10 minutes, 45 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
STAR GARDEN
1974 • 20 minutes, 58 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
DESERT
1976 • 10 minutes, 7 seconds • Super 8 mm • Silent
Program 3: 1972–82
THE PROCESS
1972 • 8 minutes, 1 second • 16 mm • Silent
BURIAL PATH
1978 • 8 minutes, 2 seconds • Super 8 mm • Silent
DUPLICITY III
1980 • 22 minutes, 18 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
THE DOMAIN OF THE MOMENT
1977 • 14 minutes, 33 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
MURDER PSALM
1980 • 16 minutes, 24 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
ARABIC 12
1982 • 17 minutes, 1 second • Super 8 mm • Silent
Disc Two
Program 4: 1989–90
VISIONS IN MEDITATION #1
1989 • 16 minutes, 19 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
VISIONS IN MEDITATION #2 (MESA VERDE)
1989 • 16 minutes, 9 seconds •16 mm • Silent
VISIONS IN MEDITATION #3 (PLATO’S CAVE)
1990 • 16 minutes, 36 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
VISIONS IN MEDITATION #4 (D. H. LAWRENCE)
1990 • 17 minutes, 41 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
Program 5: 1982, 1992, 1994
UNCONSCIOUS LONDON STRATA
1982 • 22 minutes, 15 seconds • Super 8 mm • Silent
BOULDER BLUES AND PEARLS AND . . .
1992 • 22 minutes, 24 seconds • 16 mm • Monaural
THE MAMMALS OF VICTORIA
1994 • 34 minutes, 9 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
FROM: FIRST HYMN TO THE NIGHT—NOVALIS
1994 • 2 minutes, 52 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
Program 6: 1995-2003
I TAKE THESE TRUTHS
1995 • 17 minutes, 44 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
THE CAT OF THE WORM’S GREEN REALM
1997 • 14 minutes, 10 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
YGGDRASILL: WHOSE ROOTS ARE STARS IN THE HUMAN MIND
1997 • 16 minutes, 58 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
“. . .” REEL FIVE
1998 • 14 minutes, 6 seconds • 16 mm • Stereo
PERSIAN SERIES 1–3
1999 • Total run time: 5 minutes, 54 seconds • 16 mm • Silent
CHINESE SERIES
2003 • 2 minutes, 18 seconds • 35 mm • Silent

Tack on 94-page liner notes booklet featuring a foreword and program notes by Marilyn Brakhage, film capsules and an essay by Brakhage expert Fred Camper, and an essay on the films’ preservation by Mark Toscano of the Academy Film Archive. It's impressive.

In conclusion, those 'indoctrinated' into Brakhage's American avant-garde cinema, and have drank deeply from his pool of work, probably don't require me to extol it to make a purchase decision - but for those less initiated - we can encourage as a collection that may never grow old and one you can revisit... for the rest of your lives. It will hold an esteemed, and unique, place in any digital library. Personally, I have not had success at showing parts of this to friends (I know -"get new friends") but I don't mind at all. This is a solitary appreciation - one I view totally by myself and for myself - like a sweet treat of indulgence. It's a must-own in my opinion.

NOTE: I may separately review the other 2 discs but I'd prefer not to think of that right now. I intend to let it soak-in over time.

Gary W. Tooze

****

ON THE DVD: While it is often very hard to say anything conclusive about the image quality of avant-garde films, it is virtually impossible in the case of Stan Brakhage: his films are manipulated to such a degree, that it’s impossible to know how they should look like. Although this is not one of Criterion’s ‘Director Approved’ discs, it was made in close collaboration with Brakhage authority Fred Camper, so we just have to assume the films are presented in their most authentic form. Sound is also impossible to describe, because the majority of these films are simply without sound. The supplements are substantial however, and include essays by Camper on the various films, short reflections by Brakhage on most films and some video interviews with Stan Brakhage (conducted just before his death) which all give a nice peek into Brakhage’s way of thinking and working. Criterion really went out on a limb on this one and the result is one of their most daring and lovingly made releases in an already eclectic and outstanding Collection. One could only wish they would do more stuff like this.

 - Maikel Aarts

 

 



DVD Menus

 

1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


  More Blu-ray Captures

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Criterion Collection

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion Collection

Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!