1. Elie Faure, “The Art of Charlie Chaplin,” from The Art of Cineplastics (Boston, 1923), reprinted in The Essential Chaplin: Perspectives on the Life and Art of the Great Comedian, Richard Schickel, ed. (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006), 77. [return to page 1 of essay]
2. In his first book to examine Brakhage’s films postmortem, Sitney writes:
“Between 1952 and his death in 2003, Brakhage made approximately 350 films, some shorter than a minute long and one more than four hours.” P. Adams Sitney, Eyes Upside Down: Visionary Filmmakers and the Heritage of Emerson (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 70.
3. Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art (London and New York: Distributed Art Publishers/CT Editions, 2005), 258.
4. Sitney coined the term “lyrical” in his Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), which would go on to become the primary canonization of the field and at the center of which Brakhage was distinctly positioned.
5. Sitney, Eyes Upside Down: Visionary Filmmakers and the Heritage of Emerson, 70.
6. Brakhage has used sound in only a minute percentage of his films, and Blue Moses (1962) is the only case in which he used synchronous speech. P. Adams Sitney, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000. 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 179.
7. Stan Brakhage in an April 1966 letter to Ronna Page, Brakhage Scrapbook: Collected Writings 1964-1980, Robert A. Haller, ed. (New Paltz, NY: Documentext, 1982), 49.
8. Sitney, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000, 160.
9. Ibid., 155.
10. Stan Brakhage, Metaphors on Vision, P. Adams Sitney, ed., Film Culture 30 (New York, 1963), unpaginated.
12. Marjorie Keller, The Untutored Eye: Childhood in the Films of Cocteau, Cornell, and Brakhage (Cranbury and London: Associated University Presses, 1986), 186.
13. David E. James, Stan Brakhage: Filmmaker (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005), 15.
14. Adding fuel to the flames, Brakhage refused to allow his own films, which had tested the limits of sexual censorship laws, to be appropriated by what he called “’The Cause of Sexual Freedom’ or some-such,” insisting instead that he had made such films “out of personal necessity taking shape thru means available to me of historical aesthetics” and risked imprisonment showing them “in order to meet the, as requested, needs of others.” Sex, in his work, was an inspiration, muse or material for the aesthetic and was not to be utilized for its own sake. Brakhage in letter to Ronna Page, Brakhage Scrapbook, Robert A. Haller, ed., 52.
15. Amy Taubin, “Discussion Between Marjorie Keller and Amy Taubin,” Idiolects #6 (1978): 29-30.
16. Anne Friedberg, “Misconception = The Division of Labor in the Childbirth Film,” Millennium Film Journal 4-5 (1979): 65-66.
17. In 1972, Keller was expelled from Tufts University for protesting a racially motivated firing of a departmental secretary. Although she would receive her degree from Tufts, she finished her coursework at the Art Institute in Chicago. Robin Blaetz, ed., Women’s Experimental Cinema: critical frameworks (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007), 214.
18. Keller, The Untutored Eye: Childhood in the Films of Cocteau, Cornell, and Brakhage, 180.
19. Marjorie Keller, "Review of E. Ann Kaplan's Women and Film," Millennium Film Journal 14-15 (1984-85): 44.
20. Ibid., 46.
21. Marjorie Keller in interview with Linda Reisman, “Personal Film/Feminist Film,” Camera Obscura 11 (1983): 81. [return to page 2]
22. Marjorie Keller in conversation with Amy Taubin, “Discussion Between Marjorie Keller and Amy Taubin,” 31.
23. Marjorie Keller in letter to Abigail Child from 1989, reprinted by Sitney in Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000, 422.
24. Keller in interview with Reisman, “Personal Film/Feminist Film,” 74.
25. Ibid., 76.
26. Sitney, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000, 169.
27. Friedberg, “Misconception = The Division of Labor in the Childbirth Film,” 67.
28. Kaja Silverman, “Disembodying the Female Voice,” Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism, Mary Ann Doane, Patricia Mellencamp and Linda Williams, eds. (Frederick: University Publications of America, Inc., 1984), 137.
29. Ibid., 137.
30. Friedberg, “Misconception = The Division of Labor in the Childbirth Film,” 68. [return to page 3]
31. Keller explains in her interview with Reisman that the baby actually came out unexpectedly quickly and that she was initially disappointed at missing the actual birth after preparing for it so long. She then states:
“So I was concentrating on the mask-like face of the mother pushing while the baby was born. I was frustrated and angry—I didn’t get it. But it occurred to me when I saw the footage and listened to the sound that I had gotten something that was quite extraordinary in the relationship between the sound of my brother saying ‘It’s a girl’ and the camera moving from the mother’s face in the very unfocused, rapidly moving way trying to find the baby.” Keller in interview with Reisman, “Personal Film/Feminist Film,” 74.
32. Reisman, “Personal Film/Feminist Film,” 67.
33. Margery S. Berube, ed., Webster’s II New College Dictionary (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995), 841.
34. Taubin writes:
“We remember Brakhage agonizing about whether he should or should not show the afterbirth because it would perhaps interrupt the aesthetic distance which he feels the artwork must maintain. Aesthetic distance then becomes the suppression of certain kinds of material which do not fit an already idealized structure whose boundaries have been set by men.” Amy Taubin, “Keller’s Misconception,” The Soho Weekly News (May 11, 1978): 42.
Whether or not Brakhage did any such agonizing, I do not know, as I have yet to come across any interview or piece of writing where he states as much and Taubin fails to cite this piece of information. In the completed film, however, Brakhage did include the afterbirth and captured it with as much investigative attention as Keller.
35. Reisman, “Personal Film/Feminist Film,” 62.
36. Ibid., 66.
37. Ibid., 70.
38. Amy Taubin, “Daughters of Chaos: feminist and Avant-Garde Filmmakers,” Village Voice (November 30, 1982): 80. [return to page 4]
39. Taubin, “Keller’s Misconception,” 42.
40 Marjorie Keller, "Montage of Voices." Millennium Film Journal 14-16 (1987): 250.
41. Ibid., 250.
42. Keller in conversation with Taubin, “Discussion Between Marjorie Keller and Amy Taubin,” 28.
43. Ibid., 29.
44. Because of her early use of Super-8 as well as her continued commitment to the medium, Keller has been described as “[t]he first filmmaker of the post-sixties generation who established a primary and lasting relationship with 8mm.” Steve Anker, “Big as Life,” Big as Life: An American History of 8mm Films, Albert Kilchesty, ed. (San Francisco: Foundation for Art in Cinema, 1998), 10.
45. B. Ruby Rich, Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), 122.
46. Stan Brakhage in interview with Hollis Frampton, originally published in the January 1973 Artforum, reprinted in Brakhage Scrapbook, Robert A. Haller, ed., 175.
47. Stan Brakhage in a question and answer section after a screening of The Text of Light at the Art Institute on November 18th, 1978, reprinted in Brakhage Scrapbook, Robert A. Haller, ed., 213.
48. Keller, "Montage of Voices,” 250.
49. Biographical information found in “A Memorial Worship In Loving Memory of Marjorie Keller Sitney” pamphlet in The Marjorie Keller File at Anthology Film Archives, accessed on April 9, 2009.
51. J. Hoberman, Home Made Movies: 20 Years of American 8mm and Super-8 Films (New York: Anthology Film Archives, 1981), and Albert Kilchesty, ed., Big as Life: An American History of 8mm Films (San Francisco: Foundation for Art in Cinema, 1998).
52. Maria DiBattista, “Marjorie Keller: A Remembrance,” Film Culture 78 (1994): 16.