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 »
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 woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen.
On a winter's day, a woman stretches near a window then sits in a bathtub of water. She's happy. Her lover is nearby; there are close ups of her face, her pregnant belly, and his hands caressing her. She gives birth: we see the crowning of the baby's head, then the birth itself; we watch a pair of hands tie off and cut the umbilical cord. With the help of the attending hands, the mother expels the placenta. The infant, a baby girl, nurses. We return from time to time to the bath scene. By the end, dad's excited; mother and daughter rest.Written by
This film is included on "By Brakhage: an Anthology", which is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #184. See more »
Touching and interesting early Brakhage
Some amazing footage of the birth of Brakhage's 1st child, shot with great explicitness, with no holding back- we see the 'birth' of the placenta, the baby crowning, etc. And while this is as explicit a birth as I've seen, the setting (at home) and the feeling of intimacy make it anything but clinical, or exploitive. It's really quite sweet.
On the other hand, Brakhage's insistence on rapid jump cuts, self-consciously oblique angles, etc worked in the other direction, pushing me away from a straightforward emotional experience. Which was, of course part of the intent. In making it not a documentary, but a subjective, somewhat surreal film, it seemed to be trying to go beyond a simple well-made telling. For me that worked well at times, but at others I'll admit to longing to finding the effects frustrating and not understanding exactly what they were trying to communicate emotionally or intellectually.
Beyond it's merits as a film, it was also important in that this kind of footage simply didn't exist at the time. It was initially seized by the Kodak lab, and Brakhage had to get a note from the doctor involved explaining it wasn't pornography (!). The film was part of the beginning of the movement towards accepting childbirth as beautiful and without need to be hidden, that fathers can and should be in the room to witness and take part, and that big white hospitals aren't the only place to have a baby. So it had an impact on a social as well as a cinematic level.
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