More movies you should watch (avant-garde/experimental edition)! Wheeeeeee
1. The Blood of a Poet, Jean Cocteau
The first of Cocteau’s Orphic trilogy! This film, like many of the films I discuss, means a lot to me because I watched it in my favorite professor’s class. I haven’t seen all of Cocteau’s films but I am definitely looking forward to doing just that as soon as I get some free time away from school.
Simply put, this film follows an artist as he delves into strange situations. The film deals with instances of voyeurism, sexuality and gender, and narcissism. However, I’m not the person to ask when it comes to what Cocteau was trying to say with this film, I just think it is freakin’ astounding.
2. Meshes of the Afternoon, Maya Deren
I could go on for hours about my love for Maya Deren. I’ve written so many papers about her and even almost wrote my senior thesis on this film in particular. I try to make everyone watch Meshes because I feel that it is a great starting point for someone who wants to start watching experimental films (and film in general).
I can’t even begin trying to describe Meshes of the Afternoon, I just think everyone should watch it because it is for sure in my top 5 films of all time and I think that’s a good enough reason. Plus, it is under 14 minutes long. Just watch it.
3. Ballet Mechanique, Fernand Leger
Without fail, I always sit next to someone in my film classes who has never taken a film class before. They are always worried about being able to write an entire paper on just two or three films. To comfort them, I always tell them this: I once wrote a 15 page paper on Ballet Mechanique – a film that is 16 minutes long and basically consists of absolutely zero “story line.” I can’t find the paper and it has been a few years so I couldn’t even begin to tell you what I wrote about but yeah, the point is that I did it.
This was the first avant-garde film I ever saw so I think it’s a good starting place if you are wanting to delve in. Again, like most of these films, it might be good to find some sort of scholarly articles (or even consult Wikipedia) to garner some sort of “authoritative” opinions about what the heck the film is about.
4. Scorpio Rising, Kenneth Anger
If you like David Lynch, you need to watch Kenneth Anger’s films. It will freak you out. Kenneth Anger was definitely a huge source of inspiration for a lot of contemporary filmmakers, but I personally am shocked when I watch these films. They just scream Lynch to me. It’s crazy to see what the filmmakers today have drawn inspiration from.
The film is symbolism, if that makes sense. Like, everything seems to mean something…or maybe it doesn’t, I don’t know. I don’t think its that hard to understand what’s going on in this film – a look into the biker culture as well as a ton of homoeroticism. And, of course, the use of popular music of the time is amazing, too.
5. The Dante Quartet, Stan Brakhage
Stan Brakhage is just…yes. I spent almost all of my Sophomore year obsessed with his films. I love everything about them – but my favorite thing is the handwritten titles. I can just imagine Brakhage sitting in front of a roll of film and constructing all of this by hand and, to me, that is so cool. I couldn’t really pick a particular Brakhage film that I love the most so if you enjoy this, check out some more of his work, most of it can be found on Youtube.
As usual, if you watch any of these, let me know! And send some recommendations my way!