Stan Brakhage II

film 13 of 27

The Dante Quartet

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

Amazing! More than Norman McLaren ever did with painting on celluloid. Not more, as in better or more dedicated. More like Pollock is more than Kandinsky, or Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz is more than The Shape of Jazz to Come. All of the usual Brakhage platitudes make perfect sense here. It’s an ecstatic vision, whether he’s in hell or paradise. The paint is palpable, and exquisite. In fact, as with Pollock, there’s an actual plot to this film, or a story at least. It’s about the making of art, and it is the rapture of that art-making. The alternating of slow flow with a kind of fast motion, and especially the occasional and sudden freezes and fast fades are really striking.

Fire at first! The glimpses of objectives in the third section are similar to the Steven Foster music in I…Dreaming. There’s a promise of representation, even if we don’t ever quite get it. Except that Brakhage doesn’t quite seem to want or need it. Volcano at the end! An eye-full, and a heart-full as well.