Stan Brakhage

STAN BRAKHAGE’S DEATH at seventy, on March 9, 2003, marked the end of the most astonishing career in the 108-year history of the cinema. For fifty years Brakhage released up to a dozen new works every year without a break, so that he leaves a filmography with some four hundred titles. In his artistic practice and in the themes of his films he was an Emersonian vitalist, a legacy he inherited through the poets Ezra Pound and Robert Duncan. But in the end he moved from being a celebrant of the aesthetic creed of the American Orpheus, and from a self-consciously Spinozist position as a critic of religion as power, to professing the Christianity of his Dickensian childhood as an adopted orphan. His funeral took place in an Episcopal church.

Brakhage’s creative energies and his cinematic inventiveness were Promethean. He filmed two epic cycles, Dog Star Man (1961–64) and the Faust series (

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