Stan Brakhage’s Expressionistic Masterpiece


Stan Brakhage is considered one of the most important and innovative non-narrative (some say ‘experimental’) filmmakers of all time.  His place in the avant-garde is recognized for the consistence with which his films to seem to ask the question, ‘Isn’t there a more artistic way to use the medium of film than just to tell stories?’  While Brakhage explored this question through a number of different techniques over the course of his 50+ year career, such as burning the film itself (Eye Myth) and pasting insect parts onto it (Mothlight), it was the last stage of his career wherein Brakhage applied paint to the celluloid almost exclusively that was to be the era that most defined his aesthetic.  One of the films of this era, 1987’s The Dante Quartet, inspired by Brakhage’s numerous readings of The Divine Comedy, is so full of beautiful abstract-expressionistic images that it not only begs for repeated viewings (I’ve watched it 4 times today), but also makes me want to take out my old copy of Dante and see what it inspires me to make [Editorially, this is the first Brakhage film that I had ever seen and I have been a big fan of his work ever since].  Check out the Youtube clip of the film below the following stills:

dantequartet2 dantequartet1

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