Four young men and a young woman sit in boredom. She smokes while one strums a lute, one looks at a magazine, and two fiddle with string. The door opens and in comes a young man, cigarette ...
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We see a film negative of a nude couple embracing in bed. Then, back in regular black and white images, we see them alone and together, clothed, at home. It's night, she sees his reflection... See full summary »
Images of two women, two men, and a gray cat form a montage of rapid bits of movement. A woman is in a bedroom, another wears an apron: they work with their hands, occasionally looking up. ... See full summary »
A stand of birches. Sunlight brightens and dims, revealing more or less of the woods. A little grass is on the forest floor. Is there a shape in the shadows? Something green is out of focus... See full summary »
After the title, a white screen gives way to a series of frames suggestive of abstract art, usually with one or two colors dominating and rapid change in the images. Two figures emerge from... See full summary »
A collage of two-dimensional images of vegetation, each appearing only for a moment, sometimes as a single image, more often with other bits of stem, leaf, bud, or petal. Often we see only ... See full summary »
Four young men and a young woman sit in boredom. She smokes while one strums a lute, one looks at a magazine, and two fiddle with string. The door opens and in comes a young man, cigarette between his lips, a swagger on his face. The young woman laughs. As the four young men continue disconnected activities, the other two become a couple. When the four realize something has changed, first they stare at the couple who have kissed and now are dancing slowly. The four run from the house in a kind of frenzy and return to stare. The power of sex has unnerved them.Written by
It is the first time when Brakhage's camera becomes definitely subjective. Instead of telling a story from outside, here the observer becomes part of the story; instead of seeing the scene from outside, here the camera becomes part of the scene: and so the movie is rather a story about the way the story is perceived. Brakhage did not know the movies of Dziga Vertov by that time, however he was following the same path.
It is the first movie of Brakhage where camera becomes truly part of himself, and he becomes part of his camera. And here Vertov comes again in mind. Only it is something special at Brakhage: if he is part of camera, and camera is part of him, then camera enters his life, his life becomes his movies. You see his movies, you see him. And he would find the courage and the honesty to tell us everything, about birth and about death, about sex and all kind of intimacy, about fears and about enthusiasms, about craziness - and it would be impossible for him to do otherwise, because he was bound by his camera. And after many years, he would get rid even of his camera - his great movies of the eighties and nineties would be hand painted directly on the film. His immersion in the world of his movies would become total.
Darragh O'Donoghue considers that Desistfilm is a prototype horror movie, shot through with the quicksilver sensibilities of Cocteau and Epstein (Senses of Cinema). I would say that it is rather voyeuristic, as it carries an almost unbearable sense of intimacy. This is the great art of Brakhage: the closeness of filmmaker, camera and scene. Each one, filmmaker, camera, scene are observing each other with minutia. It results a universe where people, objects and time are alike, loosing any solid ground, floating somehow in space, behaving unexpectedly and being just scary; a universe where nobody can be in control; and it results a horrible feeling of claustrophobia and of paranoia.
And why this title, Desistfilm? Well, for the beat generation of the fifties, rebels without a cause, even existentialism wasn't worth to exist any more.
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