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Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage

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Also Known As: Died: March 9, 2003
Born: January 14, 1933 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kansas City, Missouri, USA Profession: director, educator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Since 1952, and his first film, "Interim," through such landmark efforts as "Anticipation of the Night" (1958), Brakhage has been engaged in an effort to reshape our habits of seeing. In his book, "Metaphors on Vision," he wrote, "Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not repond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception..." Brakhage has made over 200 films, ranging in length from less than a minute to more than four hours. Though the style of his filmmaking has been consistent over four decades--shallow focus, a rich and sensual use of color, rhythmic cutting, little or no soundtrack--Brakhage has dealt with a variety of themes. In "Scenes From Under Childhood" (1967-70) he sought to reconstruct the primal adventure of perception; in "Dog Star Man" (1959-64) he created a visual symphony that compares the ascent of a mountain to our passage into life; in "Window Water Baby Moving" (1959) he produced a unique film on the birth of a child; and in "Mothlight" (1963) and a dozen other films made over the next 20-odd years, he pasted organic materials or...

Since 1952, and his first film, "Interim," through such landmark efforts as "Anticipation of the Night" (1958), Brakhage has been engaged in an effort to reshape our habits of seeing. In his book, "Metaphors on Vision," he wrote, "Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not repond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception..." Brakhage has made over 200 films, ranging in length from less than a minute to more than four hours. Though the style of his filmmaking has been consistent over four decades--shallow focus, a rich and sensual use of color, rhythmic cutting, little or no soundtrack--Brakhage has dealt with a variety of themes. In "Scenes From Under Childhood" (1967-70) he sought to reconstruct the primal adventure of perception; in "Dog Star Man" (1959-64) he created a visual symphony that compares the ascent of a mountain to our passage into life; in "Window Water Baby Moving" (1959) he produced a unique film on the birth of a child; and in "Mothlight" (1963) and a dozen other films made over the next 20-odd years, he pasted organic materials or painted, inked, or dyed images directly onto film stock, making streams of images without the use of a camera.

The origin of Brakhage's cinema lies in the non-narrative realms of music, painting and poetry. Oliver Messiaen's music was a formative influence on "Scenes From Under Childhood;" poet Robert Creeley has been a commentator for and colleague of Brakhage for decades. In the 1960s Brakhage was celebrated for his subjective vision and his nonconformism; in the 70s he alienated many friends with his "Pittsburgh documents," especially the harrowing "Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes" (1971), set in a morgue, as well as the sync-sound "The Stars Are Beautiful" (1974) and "The Governor" (1977), which tracked the chief executive of the State of Colorado. Simultaneously, Brakhage was producing the autobiographical "Sincerity/Duplicity" series (1973-80), a project which he may resume. In the 1980s he produced what he called his first "abstract" films: the "Roman Numeral Series" (1979-81), nine films titled only with roman numerals; and the "Arabics" (1980-82), 19 more works of "envisioned music"--which was as far as he would go in discussing the content of these brief, jewel-like bursts of light.

In 1988, commenting on his new film, "Marilyn's Window," Brakhage spoke of how a "stream-of-visual-consciousness could be nothing less than the pathway of the soul," suggesting that his films speak to human senses that are vital but dormant, eyes that can grasp more than we have imagined. Parallel to his filmmaking, Brakhage has been a teacher and writer whose books include "Metaphors on Vision" (1963) and "Brakhage Scrapbook" (1982); "Film Biographies" (1977) and "Film At Wit's End" (1989), collections of essays on other filmmakers; and "I...Sleeping," a dream journal from 1975, published in 1988.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Child's Garden, A (2004) Director
3.
  Commingled Containers (1997) Director
5.
  Marilyn's Window (1988) Director
6.
  I... Dreaming (1988) Director
7.
  Tortured Dust (1984) Director
8.
  Songs 1-14 (1980) Director
9.
  Sincerity (1980) Director
10.
  23rd Psalm Branch (1978) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
3.
 In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2003) Himself
5.
6.
 Cannibal! The Musical (1993) (Cameo Appearance)
7.
9.
 The Art of Vision (1965) Dog Star Man
10.
 Dog Star Man (1965) Dog Star Man
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Adopted at the age of three weeks
1953:
Upon dropping out of Dartmouth, co-directed first film, "Interim" (25 mins)
1953:
Moved to San Francisco; then to Central City, CO where he made second film and directed for the stage at the Yellow Door Theater Company; then back to San Francisco where he made the no longer extant "The Boy and the Sea" (2 mins)
1954:
After acquiring own 16mm camera and editing equipment moved back to Colorado; made several films including "Desistfilm" (1954)
1954:
Moved to New York in the Fall; had first film screenings at Living Theater; received award from the Maya Deren Creative Film Foundation
:
Moved to Los Angeles (after brief stay in Denver)
1957:
Returned to Denver; began landmark film "Anticipation of the Night" (1958; 58 mins)
1969:
Began lecturing on film at Art Institute of Chicago
1981:
Appointed professor of film at University of Colorado
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Education

Dartmouth College: Hanover , New Hampshire -
Institute of Fine Arts: San Francisco , California -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mary Jane Collom. Married in December 1957; divorced in 1986.
wife:
Marilyn Brakhage.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Ludwig Brakhage. Shoe salesman. Adoptive father.
mother:
Clara Brakhage. Adoptive mother.
daughter:
Myrrena Brakhage. Mother, Mary Jane Collom.
daughter:
Crystal Brakhage. Mother, Mary Jane Collom.
child:
Neowyn Brakhage. Mother, Mary Jane Collom.
child:
Bearthm Brakhage. Mother, Mary Jane Collom.
child:
Rarc Brakhage. Mother, Mary Jane Collom.
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