Black Ice (Stan Brakhage, 1994, USA)

Black Ice is another 90s short by Stan Brakhage. the film does seem to replicate the experience of looking through the ice. The film showcases a spectrum of colors on the bluer side, including purples and reds. There is an icy quality to the film. Brakhage seems to be passing through a portal as we increasingly go into close-up, while the pacing of the flashing images changes throughout the film. Some of the colors and images are flashing, while others seem to move slowly or more statistically throughout. There is a black color as well that seems to permeate the vision, giving the sense of ice to the vision.

The film was inspired by the visions Brakhage had after falling on a patch of black ice, which resulted in his need for eye surgery. There is something metaphysical and urgent about the film when one views it in this context. Certainly, the fact that the film was inspired by a fall and a temporary loss of consciousness puts it into a new perspective, as the film does seem to mimic both the sensation of falling and losing touch with reality. Most of Brakhage's films seem to have a metaphysical component, and this one is no exception. 

Brakhage's works generally seem to be on the more personal side or the more abstract side. This film falls into the latter camp, but it is certainly visually striking and makes a good companion piece to his other 1990s handpainted film Glaze of Cathexis. There is a psychedelic aspect as always to Brakhage's films, and this makes them disorienting. It is always interesting to imagine watching his films with music, as the Brakhage's films are always silent. It is good to imagine what music could be accompanying his films, and we often do this.



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