Via GreenCine Daily, I want to direct you all to this terrific blog post by Dennis Cooper dedicated to the late, great Stan Brakhage (January 14, 1933 – March 9, 2003). Brakhage was the finest and most creatively productive of America’s abstract filmmakers. By “abstract,” I mean that Brakhage routinely abandoned several of the elements we associate most often with filmmaking – acting, dialogue, soundtrack, and story – in order to concentrate on film’s visual and poetic aspects. Cooper’s post combines biography, analysis, frame enlargments, and no less than ten YouTube videos of Brakhage’s short films to provide a thorough introduction to Brakhage and his work.
Brakhage’s films divide [very] roughly into two categories: (1) films that he “shot” in the conventional sense, and (2) films that were created by painting directly on the celluloid. (The latter category would also include films like Mothlight that were created by gluing things onto the celluloid.) Black Ice (1994, above) was created by painting on strips of celluloid, and then combining the results with an optical zoom. The result is, one might say, awesome. You can view the silent Black Ice as Brakhage’s anticipation of his own death, or you can look at it as a penetration into a new and unknown world (a birth, just as much as a death). In either event, you are likely to find it well worth the 1 minute and 50 seconds it takes to view it.
Also highly recommended: the Criterion DVD anthology entitled By Brakhage.