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23rd Psalm Branch: Part I (1967)

6.9
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Title: 23rd Psalm Branch: Part I (1967)

23rd Psalm Branch: Part I (1967) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Stan Brakhage's war movie: it's worth seeing
6 October 2011 | by (Austria) – See all my reviews

During the first few minutes I was somewhat skeptical. Images of atrocities, of the slaughtered, flashed by and I involuntarily thought of a parallel sequence in Derek Jarman's WAR REQUIEM, where the soundtrack-- Benjamin Britten's eponymous work-- provided a wider dimension through its acoustic counterpoint. About 15 minutes in I was totally into Brakhage-- perforated film and fantastically edited images of Hitler and Mussolini set up a powerful purely visual rhythm that needed no sound!

IMDb separates the two parts and "coda" of this film, but I saw it projected as an entirety-- ca. 65 minutes. Early in the second part there was a visually flabby and unconvincing stretch labeled (by hand) as "Peter Kubelka's Vienna"-- a Vienna of the 1960's far drearier than that in which I live today. But Brakhage's images and rhythms picked up again, with motives from the first part recurring. The last of the several painting-and-scratching-on-film sequences was the most lyrical and impressive. A brief "coda"-- festival and fireworks-- was somewhat disorienting and thought-provoking in the sense that it made me want to see the whole film again, from the beginning.

It wasn't as coherent and intense an experience as DOG STAR MAN, but still very much worth seeing.


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