Phrases of Stephen Foster, set to music by Joel Heartling, are set to film in this autobiographical piece: a solitary female voice, occasionally joined by a chorus, sings phrases of sorrow ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Bearthm Brakhage
Neowyn Brakhage
Rarc Brakhage
Stan Brakhage
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Phrases of Stephen Foster, set to music by Joel Heartling, are set to film in this autobiographical piece: a solitary female voice, occasionally joined by a chorus, sings phrases of sorrow as we watch a solitary man in shadows in an unadorned house: he stretches out, he picks his feet, he walks across a room, he rocks in a chair. Occasionally he watches two young children at play; the film sometimes speeds up. Handwritten words, like "dark void" and "waiting longing," cross the screen. Film and phrases often come in short bursts. Outdoor it looks gray and cold. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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1 October 1988 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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A collage of happiness and brooding loss
6 June 2004 | by (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

Extremely autobiographical piece made during an intensely depressive period for the filmmaker after his divorce from Jane, his first wife, and separation from his five children. Brakhage calls it "a true, narrative, dramatic psychodrama". The film's background music is a piece which is a collage of brief phrases from various Stephen Foster songs whose common theme is loss. Brakhage scratches individual words from these songs on the film at intervals, and the shaky letters dance uncertainly across the frame. The primary visual theme is of the 55-year-old filmmaker himself brooding in a lonely apartment, sitting on the floor leaning against a wall, repeatedly rising naked from his bed and falling back. This is intercut with footage made years earlier, in the 70s, when his children were much smaller, as they played happily in the home they once shared. Even at his very lowest point, Brakhage continued to turn his life into art.


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