6.3/10
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11 user 10 critic

Mothlight (1963)

A "found foliage" film composed of insects, leaves, and other detritus sandwiched between two strips of perforated tape.

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Storyline

Seemingly at random, the wings and other bits of moths and insects move rapidly across the screen. Most are brown or sepia; up close, we can see patterns within wings, similar to the veins in a leaf. Sometimes the images look like paper cutouts, like Matisse. Green objects occasionally appear. Most wings are translucent. The technique makes them appear to be stuck directly to the film. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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wings | insect | brown | sepia | moth | See All (15) »

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Release Date:

9 April 2004 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

To fos tis nyhtopetaloudas  »

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

No camera was used to make this short movie: legs, wings and other parts of butterflies were glued directly on the filmstrip, thus creating a shifting pattern of unsurpassed beauty. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Jacket (2005) See more »

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Gluing the World on a Film Strip
15 January 2011 | by See all my reviews

Brakhage was intimate with his camera and with the world seen by his camera from the very beginning. And from a certain moment on he felt the camera was of no more use between him and the world. He started to put the world directly on the film, either by painting it, scratching it, or by physically gluing the world there, like in this 4 minute movie from 1963, Mothlight. It could sound crazy to you, but Brakhage collected patiently hundreds of moth wings from the inside of lamps and windows, added parts of leaves and other detritus and sandwiched them between two filmstrips. The outcome was the life of a moth, from birth to death: a dance of patterns on the wings, of psychedelic beauty. The world of butterflies, as seen by the light bulb; or the fascination in the eyes of butterflies deadly attracted by the light bulb; or the fascination of us in watching the screen.

You could ask, is this the real world? Of course not, this is the world created by the imagination of Brakhage. An artist creates universes on his own, he is some kind of God (or Frankenstein, matter of perspective), and the only criteria for us to judge should be the consistency of the world we see on the screen, on the canvas, in a book (or the world we listen to when in a concert hall).


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