New Brakhage Prints: Mothlight, Scenes from Under Childhood & The Dead

Posted September 17th, 2018 in New Acquisitions, News / Events

The National Gallery of Art in Wasington, D.C. has generously provided funding for new distribution prints of Mothlight, Scenes From Under Childhood (I, II, III, & IV), and The Dead, which are now in distribution.

Scenes From Under Childhood Part 1 (1967 | 25 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

Scenes From Under Childhood Part 2 (1969 | 40 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

Scenes From Under Childhood Part 3 (1969 | 25 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

Scenes From Under Childhood Part 4 (1970 | 45 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

A visualization of the inner world of foetal beginnings, the infant, the baby, the child – a shattering of the “myths of childhood” through revelation of the extremes of violent terror and overwhelming joy of that world darkened to most adults by their sentimental remembering of it … a “tone poem” for the eye – very inspired by the music of Oliver Messiaen. (The visual imagery was inspired by Messiaen – NOT the Sound Track.)

I recommend to those interested in the greatest visual experience of this film that they leave the sound track off and look at it silently. I suggest that those interested in studying the “sound problem” of motion picture aesthetic take this opportunity to experience the film both silently and then with sound track. My study of this particular Section #1 has convinced me to leave the soundtrack version available – for “study” purposes only – until the entire SCENES FROM UNDER CHILDHOOD, in all its sections, is completed; and then I will withdraw all sound prints and replace them with the silent version only.

Note: A sound version of section one of the film is still available.

Mothlight (1963 | 4 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

Essence of lepidoptera re-created between two strips of clear mylar tape: an anima animation. What a moth might see from birth to death if black were white and white were black.

“Brakhage made MOTHLIGHT without a camera. He just pasted mothwings and flowers on a clear strip of film and ran it through the printing machine.” – Jonas Mekas “MOTHLIGHT is a paradoxical preservation of pieces of dead moths in the eternal medium of light (which is life and draws the moth to death); so it flutters through its very disintegration. This abstract of flight captures matter’s struggle to assume its proper form; the death of the moth does not cancel its nature, which on the filmstrip asserts itself. MOTHLIGHT is on one level a parable of death and resurrection, but most really concerns the persistence of the essential form, image, and motion of being.” – Ken Kelman

Awards: Brussels Int’l Film Festival, 1964; Spoleto Film Festival, 1966.

The Dead  (1960 | 11 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

“… a very sombre and intense visual poem, a black lyric, if you like, but full of an open dramatic energy which puts it well above a formal or rhetorical exercise on Time and Eternity. In the visual form of the monuments of the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, the persistent and impenetrable geometric masonry gets to be less a symbol of death than a death-like sensation.” – Donald Sutherland

Europe, weighted down so much with that past, was THE DEAD. I was always Tourist there; I couldn’t live in it. The graveyard could stand for all my view of Europe, for all the concerns with past art, for involvement with symbol. THE DEAD became my first work, in which things that might very easily be taken as symbols were so photographed as to destroy all their symbolic potential. The action of making THE DEAD kept me alive.

Award: Brussels Int’l Film Festival, 1964