On a winter's day, a woman stretches near a window then sits in a bathtub of water. She's happy. Her lover is nearby; there are close ups of her face, her pregnant belly, and his hands caressing her. She gives birth: we see the crowning of the baby's head, then the birth itself; we watch a pair of hands tie off and cut the umbilical cord. With the help of the attending hands, the mother expels the placenta. The infant, a baby girl, nurses. We return from time to time to the bath scene. By the end, dad's excited; mother and daughter rest. Written by
It took me nearly ten years to muster up the guts to actually sit through an entire viewing of Stan Brakhage's WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING.......... and my courage has been completely rewarded by it! Even in this time, when watching live births on TV is commonplace, Brakhage's film (then ground-breaking for 1959) on the birth of his first child takes that "miracle" of life to an exultant place beyond the merely visual or educational, and gives the viewer the truth of both love and art.
Warm skin-tones, loving hands on his pregnant wife Jane's stomach, water washing over expectant skin, eyes, smiles, and the clearly visible movement of a child in the womb through the protruding abdomen eventually give way to extremely graphic, though emotionally and viscerally stunning shots of a child being born. All the pain, commitment, necessity, care and truth (the WHOLE truth!!!) involved in the before, during and after stages of becoming a part of this world are fully documented by Brakhage the filmmaker and father. The compositioning, colours, movements, angles, sequencing and revelations ultimately forming an incredible visual poem on and about the love of a man and a woman, and the child they have created together. Made all the more powerful and impacting by the complete lack of sound; thereby letting the eye do the "reading".
I had never seen anything so breathtaking, eye-opening, informative, and completely uncensored, yet so fraught with beauty before I saw this film tonight. When Brakhage grasps his head and smiles so wonderously at the end I couldn't help but smile back for him. One creation spawning another, shared with us all.
10/10. A true miracle.
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