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Prelude: Dog Star Man (1962)

A creation myth realized in light, patterns, images superimposed, rapid cutting, and silence. A black screen, then streaks of light, then an explosion of color and squiggles and ... See full summary »

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(as Brakhage)
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Jane Brakhage ...
(uncredited)
Stan Brakhage ...
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Storyline

A creation myth realized in light, patterns, images superimposed, rapid cutting, and silence. A black screen, then streaks of light, then an explosion of color and squiggles and happenstance. Next, images of small circles emerge then of the Sun. Images of our Earth appear, woods, a part of a body, a nude woman perhaps giving birth. Imagery evokes movement across time. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Short | Drama

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Release Date:

2 August 1962 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

This film explores what Brakhage calls "closed eye vision". See more »

Connections

Followed by Dog Star Man: Part I (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

 
the "creation myth" in a "closed eye vision"
2 May 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I should note right at the top that it seems unfair to give this a rating or a vote based on anything to do with story. My praise for this piece of art film - and that is what it is, no ifs ands or buts about that - comes from the cinematography, the special lighting effects, and naturally the editing. This is so far beyond the scope of what many in the world seek out to watch as this is the definition of 'experimental' in cinema, and yet for those who find it or somehow it comes to them (via a small revival house or from the Criterion collection set) it's a wonder to behold.

Funny though to think that, not intentionally I assume, when the "MTV Generation" of directors would make their videos (and still do, but I mean when they were regularly shown on TV) they were decried by critics for being cut too fast. This really goes back to Brakhage here, though of course his intentions were not to promote some band with the rapid-fire cuts and the stream-of-consciousness flow of images and colors and warped contours folding into one another. That's why it's kind of hard to write any kind of appraisal of this aside from 'well, watch it for yourself, and if you make it past the first few minutes there's... more of these wonders to behold!'

I think because of the way my mind works I watch something like the Prelude to Dog Star Man (the whole "film" is in four parts), and I do try to find some semblance of a story. My mind is still on the experimental, transgression and consciousness-expanding wavelength, but I think that if you look for at least some kind of scenario there's the slightest, most subtle touches going on. You can see the shots of the sun, which are shot via help from an observatory, and also a naked woman (her breasts and public hair are there to see), but unlike Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving you don't get a clear sense of a woman giving birth.

There IS a sexual component, however, something to do with the flesh and lots of moving parts with it and blood that flows underneath - red is always a potent color, the kind that vibrates and you (or I at least) can feel something that has to do with blood, life force, something that goes back to a time before we can remember. Or... maybe it's all simply a bunch of images meant to conjure in the viewer anything he or she is looking for or identifies with. It's an adventure in... stuff, in colors, in mountains, in driving on a road, in a bearded guy playing with a kid, with things that are happening and in motion (and, at times, kind of akin to what we see if we close our eyes in dreams).

No other filmmaker has made or will make a work quite like this, and even at 25 minutes it feels like an epic and so 'out there' in a pre-psychedelic sense that it makes the Jupiter & the Beyond the Infinite in 2001 look like a conventional effects trail.


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