Stan Brakhage II

film 12 of 27


Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

The musical collage on this soundtrack is a very nice addition, and quite unusual in a filmmaker so dedicated to making aggressively silent films. This soundtrack resembles a cut and paste version of Hanns Eisler’s very important film-musical idea (cf. his book Composing for Films, 1947, or his score for the celebrated Night and Fog, 1955). This was that tonality, and we might in this case add continuity, are essential to films, and to life as well. But not necessarily in the way we have thought, or been told.

Tonality and continuity are a promise that a film or soundtrack can hold out to the viewer. They are certainly, conventionally, what the viewer expects. But life will almost never deliver on that promise of accord, and responsible or relevant film scores will not do so either. The fact is that we feel, at least hope that we are on the brink of connection, accomplishment, closure. And yet those things are constantly cut short, interrupted, even, it would seem, disproven. Eisler advocated and attempted the communication of just this kind of musical message. The result is that the major cadence or the finished song symbolize (in a way that you not only understand but also feel, quite deeply) an ideal and unattainable peace. Unattainable because the chord never quite resolves, nor does the song come to an end. And yet, is that not something of a peaceful strain that we still hear?

I…Dreaming was made during Brakhage’s separation from his long-time wife, Jane. It is mournful, and yet… The scratches on the surface of the film are also lovely, as are the children, who must mean something similarly paradisiacal. Except that, unlike accord figurative major cadences, they actually appear to be attainable.