7.1/10
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Thot-Fal'N (1978)

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Jane Brakhage
Tom Bartek
Gloria Bartek
Peter Orlovsky
Philip Whalen
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1.37 : 1
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Falling away from conscious thought
17 February 2010 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I found 'Thot-Fal'N (1978)' to be a little obscure in its meaning, so I'll let Stan Brakhage have the first word: "This film describes a psychological state 'kin to "moon-struck," its images emblems (not quite symbols) of suspension-of-self within consciousness and then that feeling of "falling away" from conscious thought. The film can only be said to "describe" or be emblematic of this state because I cannot imagine symbolising or otherwise representing an equivalent of thoughtlessness itself. Thus the "actors" in the film, Jane Brakhage, Tom and Gloria Bartek, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Philip Whalen, are figments of this Thought-Fallen PROCESS as are their images in the film to themselves being photographed."

I think I understand what Brakhage meant when he described the sensation of "falling away" from conscious thought. The film opens with, and is intermittently interrupted by, footage of a woman floating in a swimming pool, the gentle blue/green colours of the water a pleasant contrast from the film's otherwise dark and gritty photography. The swimming pool appears to serve as a mental refuge of sorts, to which the mind escapes and drifts when overburdened by the realities of modern life. These "reality" snippets are shot with a shaky, maddeningly-blurry camera that offers little detail; rather, Brakhage suggests mood through a sense of colour and lighting. Perhaps these images, often excessively zoomed with poor clarity, epitomise the old adage that sometimes the more you look, the less you really know.


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