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PDF: Telling Time: Essays of a Visionary Filmmaker - Film Studies ...

PDF: Telling Time: Essays of a Visionary Filmmaker - Film Studies ...

PDF: Telling Time: Essays of a Visionary Filmmaker - Film Studies

BOOK REVI EW • COM PTE REN DU TELLING TIME: ESSAYS OF A VISIONARY FILMMAKER Edited by Bruce McPherson Kingston, NY: Documentext, McPherson and Company, 2003, 144 pp. Reviewed by Brett Kashmere When Stan Brakhage passed away in March 2003, not only did the international avant-garde lose a groundbreaking artist, magisterial teller of tales, and esteemed public presence; it also lost an original, audacious and insightful theoretician. The twenty-six pieces collected in Telling Time: Essays of a Visionary Filmmaker, first printed in the Toronto quarterly, Musicworks between 1989 and 1999, establish Brakhage’s place among the most elastic minds of his generation. Similarly at ease discussing Russian poetry, romantic love, visual perception, child psychology, human cognition, and religious belief as he is debating aesthetic or cinematic issues, Brakhage’s essays spark from stream-of-consciousness synapses, sudden insights culled from a lifetime of voracious reading, attentive reflection, and piercing observation. The entries in Telling Time comprise Brakhage’s most mature writing, but they continue to maintain the playful slips of language and leaps of faith that distinguish earlier works such as Metaphors on Vision (1963), Film Biogra phies (1977), and Film at Wit’s End (1989). Devoid of footnotes and academic jargon, but replete with puns, intentional misspellings, humorous asides, conceptual enjambments, run on sentences and non-sequiturs, his speculative criticism is akin to a psycho-geographical dérive. Suggesting thought-in-motion (unselfconscious, deliberate thinking), these freshly buoyant essays express the organic, uneven “now-ness” of his more intuitive film compositions. Given his lifelong study of modern classical music, the pronounced, asymmetrical rhythm of Brakhage’s writing is apt. Music, he says, served as inspiration for both his “photographic aesthetics” and his “actual editing orders” even as his “creative philosophies” were becoming “silently oriented.” As Bruce McPherson points out in his Editor’s Note, Brakhage’s column (titled “Time...on dit”) arose as an exploration of film and music’s analogous relationship, and was intended for Musicworks’ specialized readership. As time-based modes of expression, both music and film depend on rhythm for unity, development and coherence. “Film and Music are continuity Arts,” he writes. “They share ‘kin senses of rhythm and tempo,” as well as “corollary aesthetics with respect to ‘tone.’” But, as McPherson observes, Brakhage quickly departed from his investigation CANADIAN JOURNAL OF FILM STUDIES • REVUE CANADIENNE BOOK D’ÉTUDES REVIEW •CINÉMATOGRAPHIQUES COMPTE RENDU 101 VOLUME 14 NO. 1 • SPRING • PRINTEMP 2005 • pp 101-104

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