Four young men and a young woman sit in boredom. She smokes while one strums a lute, one looks at a magazine, and two fiddle with string. The door opens and in comes a young man, cigarette ... See full summary »
Four young men and a young woman sit in boredom. She smokes while one strums a lute, one looks at a magazine, and two fiddle with string. The door opens and in comes a young man, cigarette between his lips, a swagger on his face. The young woman laughs. As the four young men continue disconnected activities, the other two become a couple. When the four realize something has changed, first they stare at the couple who have kissed and now are dancing slowly. The four run from the house in a kind of frenzy and return to stare. The power of sex has unnerved them. Written by
I'm guessing Desistfilm is one of the most narrative Brakhage films. It starts off with a few people sitting around, not doing much of anything. The camera mostly stays away from the people's faces: at the start it's more important to see what they are doing than how they feel about it. There's a young man playing a mandolin, a woman smoking, and another guy reading a book. Two other young men are having a conversation. A new arrival distracts everyone, the camera moves wildly as the characters begin to move more quickly, alcohol is poured. Suddenly they begin to dance in a ring, then return to their earlier roles. Instead of continuing their banal tasks they now begin doing unusual things such as stacking books and lighting fires. Everyone looks on as one of the males and the girl dance. Their motions become unbridled, the rapid camera movements reflect the characters' frantic actions. The already jarring music adds to the unsettling atmosphere as the characters revelry becomes more and more frantic. The couple is seen again with an odd distortion; the others voyeuristically leer at them and it becomes clear that the viewer is being shown the scene through the twisted viewpoint of the newly demented.
The editing and camera movements create an unsettling atmosphere as the characters in Desistfilm rapidly transform from dull, normal people to deranged savages, apparently due to a bit of drink. Desistfilm is simply a wild, Bacchanalian revel caught on film; it's extremely unsettling, probably because it seems to take so little to cause normal seeming people to devolve into fiends.
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