Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage


One of the common methods of making a no-budget abstract film was to scratch or paint directly onto the film itself, a technique popularised by Len Lye in the 1930s. Mothlight (1963) by Stan Brakhage works a variation on the process by gluing broken moth wings, leaves and other bits of natural detritus to a length of film. It only runs for three minutes but it’s a classic piece of experimental cinema. As usual with Brakhage, the titles are hand-drawn, and the film itself is silent.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Walter Ruttmann’s abstract cinema
7362, a film by Pat O’Neill
Here and There, a film by Andrzej Pawlowski
Power Spot by Michael Scroggins
OffOn by Scott Bartlett
The Flow III
Chris Parks
Len Lye
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney

2 thoughts on “Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage”

  1. Beautifully alluded to in Strickland’s The Duke of Burgandy.

    Remember reading that when Tarkovsky visited the States a screening of Brakhage’s films was arranged. Tarkovsky was nonplussed, resulting in awkward moment when the directors were introduced.

  2. Oh, I didn’t know Strickland referenced this. I’m still waiting for DoB to appear on disc.

    No surprise about Tarkovsky, really. I love his films but for all their poetic moments they’re filled with people incessantly talking and philosophising. I can see how fragmented, silent cinema wouldn’t make a great deal of sense.

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