A visual representation, in four parts, of one man's internalization of "The Divine Comedy." Hell is a series of multicolored brush strokes against a white background; the speed of the ... See full summary »
This 71-minute effort is one of Stan Brakhage's most enjoyable films. It is a "chance" study of light refracted from a crystal ashtray. With its extreme closeups of the prismatic reflections, this movie creates a micro-universe all its own, which has no relationship whatever with our physical world. In fact I am reminded of the similarly wonderful films of Jim Davis, whose prismatic works also give a sense of weightlessness and otherworldly feel.
But for all that, Brakhage refuses to turn this into a "head" film. Its choppy editing discourages us from surrendering ourselves completely in this world. As the film seems to form its own "chapters" by the way the light shapes and colours begin to coalesce, its rhythm is interrupted by a hard cut and several frames of black before we continue to a different composition. (One wonders therefore, if we are seeing this film precisely in the order it was shot, or in how Brakhage discovered the effects.) Personally, I wouldn't have minded to have been lost completely in this universe, but the choppy editing perhaps allows the camera to be a slave to the subject, rather than the traditional film-making case of manipulating the subject for the good of the camera. In that regard, TEXT OF LIGHT treats its subject matter as though it were a living thing, and the camera thusly records whatever messages it desires to share.
In any event, this film is a joy... these 71 minutes go fast.
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