IRAN IN COLOR DREAMS AND VISIONS OF STAN BRAKHAGE
How can we approach Stan Brakhage’s world? Shall we return to his inspiration drawn from the poets of San Francisco and the New York experimental filmmakers of the 1950s? Should we consider his inadequate filmmaking facilities which shrank every year, eventually reducing him to scratching negatives with his fingernails on the hospital bed at the end of his life? Besides all his sources of inspiration, from Eisenstein and Dreyer to Gertrud Stein and Rilke, I intend to examine rather an obscure source material for 18 short films of Brakhage, which most probably hasn’t been taken into consideration yet: Iran and its classical arts.
These 18 short films, called Persians, and made between 1999 to 2001, are among his last films, and based on years of studying Iran’s art and culture. They have been made by the methods of painting and scratching on the film strip; the method Brakhage first employed in Dog Star Man (1961).
The Persians is like a voyage through the architecture, miniature, calligraphy and that unique inner rhythm of Iranian culture in dynamic and spontaneous abstract forms. All of these elements have been intently studied by Brakhage, therefore watching them is a cinematic meditation entering a time-machine of hundreds of years of Iranian culture.