Stan Brakhage I

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The Wonder Ring

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

I may be wrong here. I may be making inappropriate comparisons to D.A. Pennebaker’s Daybreak Express (q.v., 1953), which features a very similar subject, but with a very distinct approach thereto. It’s amazingly accomplished, amazingly good. Plus, it has all sorts of help from Duke Ellington and one of his bands.

Like I said, the comparison may not be fair, or matched. But to my eye, watching this time, Brakhage appears to be uncomfortable as a representational photographer; establishing or descriptive shots are pretty perfunctory, even uninspired.

But then the trains start moving, and he begins to show us colours, planes, patterns of light passing through and alternating. Could it be? It’s abstraction he’s good at, abstraction he loves. I wonder if he might not develop that a little further at some point. The film stock and the colour in this film are really beautiful.