Stan Brakhage Film maker Essay

STAN BRAKHAGE                                   REPORT BY MIYANDA CHOBE

James Stanley Brakage was a an important filmaker of the 20th century. His work is known to having some small impact on mainstream cinema. Stan was Born in Kansas City, Missouri..Known as Robert Sanders and his name changed to Stan Brakage three weeks after he was born by Ludwig and Clara Brakage who adopted him and took him as his son. His films had lots of experiments and were personal and they were non-narrative.

He worked on different types of work and exploring different formats and techniques with handheld camerawork. His Technique was intresting as he would paint directly onto celluloid, fast cutting, in camera editing and stratching on film and the use of multiple exposures. He has worked and explored the following themes of Birth by filming his own wife giving birth, mortality, sexuality and innocence.

His life as a Film Maker
Stan attended the San Francisco School of Art which is now called California School of Arts when he moved to San Francisco. He didnt finish his education because he later moved to New york city in 1954 where he met artists like Maya Deren, Jonas Mekas and Willard Maas , Marie Menken and Joseph Cornell. Together he worked with Joseph Cornell and John Cage with making two films and using music and sound for his first colour movie “In Between”.

His early films were exhibited in the 1950s and in the early 1960s he was recognized in exhibitions and film publications and film culture. All this lead him to seven of his films being awarded in cluding The Dead in 1962. Jonas Mekas said Brakhage “”an intelligence and subtlety that is usually the province of the older arts.”  1961 to 1962 and from 1964 to 1969 he worked on a series of 5films “Dog Star man cycle” and he also worked on a film called the songs which included one of his most acclaimed films 23rd psalm Branch.

Brakhage has influenced a lot of video artists who have worked with him or learned about him and thos people who have gone to the cinema and have watched his films. The following filmmakers were influenced by Brakhage. Eric Darnell the director of Ants. Matt Stone and Trey Parker the creaters of south park. Raymond Salvatore a contemporary film and video artist his work is compared to the work of Brakhage.

He met such poets as Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Michael McClure, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley and Louis Zukofsky. These were some of the avant-garde people that would influence him in the next few years

About the work of Stan Brakhage and examples

Stan Brakhage worked on a lot of videos and films with different techniques of using the camera handheld and he used his creativity to produce them.  Mothlight is one of Brakhage’s older and best known films made in 1963. The film is 4 minutes long and it was composed with hundreds of moth wings collected from the inside of lamps and windows. The film shows a view of moths dancing. Brakhage called it”what a moth might see the birth to death if black were white and white were black”.  The film shows how creative he was to even have an idea of collecting moth wings and pressing them together between two layers of tape. Its a Silent film but with its own visual music. Mothlight on youtube

Window water baby is another experimental film by Brakhage which was filmed in 1958 and was released in 1959. This film shows the birth of his daughter. The whole film is silent just like his other films this gives a dissociating and alienating feel to them. The film took him over several months to edit because of the delays caused by kodak seizing the film. Window Water Baby is a great film which has insufficiently captured viewers emotions . He was also emotional while fimling the scene because it was the birth of his first child. Window Water Baby on youtube

Stan Brahage explored in different areas. He looked at predigested emotions, pretty pictures and predictable formulas. His work makes people have an experience they have never had before especially in the film “window water baby” each viewer’s experience of them is different .His work has influcend and will continue to influence people in this century.

Websites in this website is Stan’s interview answer and biography and also looking at his life as a video artist. Works of Stan Brakhage, film pioneer and longtime CU professor, preserved in new center

Stan was born on January 14, 1933 and Died on March 9 2003.


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