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Black Ice (1994)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 622 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

A lateral descent through the midnight blues and blacks of ice and the refracted colors from absorbed oils.

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A lateral descent through the midnight blues and blacks of ice and the refracted colors from absorbed oils.

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11 October 2003 (Denmark)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Inspired by Stan Brakhage's fall on a patch of black ice that resulted in his developing and having to be operated on for cataracts in both eyes. See more »

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Shards of darkness
26 April 2009 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Generally speaking, I get more out of Stan Brakhage's "personal" films – like 'Window Water Baby Moving (1959)' or 'I… Dreaming (1988)' – than I do from his more abstract efforts. However, despite 'Black Ice (1994)' falling into the latter category, it was certainly visual striking. Reportedly inspired by a tumble on black ice that required him to receive cataract surgery in both eyes, the film attempts to replicate the sensation of unconsciousness, of being momentarily robbed of one's vision and mental perception. In this sense, Brakhage succeeds: watching 'Black Ice' is a bit like flailing endlessly into a bottomless pit, though my first impression was of falling through outer space, which is probably about the same thing. Whereas many of the director's films, such as 'Mothlight (1963),' appear trapped in a single dimensional plane, this one – utilising the effects of an optical printer – seems to be constructed from two visual planes, one static and another moving towards the camera. The primarily blue and black visuals, flickering like the fractured light from a kaleidoscope, progressively seem to shift past you, layer upon layer of black ice smoothly passing by. Though the blues, blacks and whites are those colours we recall most readily, Brakhage also includes the occasional flittering deep red or orange, representing life and warmth – perhaps the solitary vestiges of consciousness and emotion that remain in this cold, impassive hole of darkness.


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