Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Dog Star Man

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

10/10

USA 1964 : Stan BRAKHAGE : 75 mins

Weapon shapely, naked, wan,
Head from the mother’s bowels drawn,
Wooded flesh and metal bone, limb only one and lip only one,
Grey-blue leaf by red-heat grown, helve produced from a little seed sown,
Resting the grass amid and upon,
To be lean’d and to lean on.
Walt Whitman, Song of the Broad-Axe

     Brakhage d.2004, included in Oscar “those we have lost” montage.

     Colour (!) / silent (!!) / 4 parts + prelude.

     Dog (brown, tail-wagging) + Man (hunter, Brakhage himself?) + Star (the sun, flares visible)

     72-minute fugue state.

     Incomprehensible?

     Works on non-rational, non-verbal level: instinctive. Abstract.

     Succession of images. Distortions. Some gross-out. Many perplexing.

     Repetitions: solar flares. Manipulations of the image: back and forth. Slow motion.

     Not especially accessible or easy. Uncompromised vision (of genius). Succumb and rewards will follow.

     Moments of trippy-hippiness. Also of Whitmanesque engagement with wilderness.

     Cormac McCarthy Child of God. “This breaking brimstone galaxy” (McCarthy: Suttree? Outer Dark?)

     Primal, sisyphean struggle uphill.

     Birth and death. Nature. Ice/snow.

     Stumbling onwards – the axe-wielding hunter and Brakhage the director alike.

     Stumbling into uncharted territory. Lost and unsuitably dressed (his flimsy boots).

     Also something of a slog for audience?

     SILENT. In the auditorium, we provide the soundtrack. [At screening caught, on Newcastle Quayside, Brakhage’s images accompanied by raucous cries of drunken passers-by. Sunday night, December, 2004]. Clack of seats from impatient walkouts [At screening caught, walkouts audible talking outside the auditorium, their comments in the corridor].

     “Chaos / control … Chaos / control” (Six Degrees of Separation)

     Comparisons invidious. Greenaway Water Wrackets.

     As with Walt W, to describe is somehow to diminish.

Wooded flesh and metal bone, limb only one and lip only one,
Grey-blue leaf by red-heat grown, helve produced from a little seed sown

6th December, 2004
[seen 5th December : CineSide, Newcastle-upon-Tyne : one-off public show]

For other films rated 9/10 and 10/10 check out our Hall of Fame

by Neil Young