Night Music (Stan Brakhage, 1986, USA)

Night Music is a painted short film by director Stan Brakhage made in 1986. The film was painted onto IMAX and is a part of a series of three hand-painted films. Clocking in at a mere 30 seconds, the film shows a set of swirling colors that appear at different speeds. The colors are blues, reds, greens, and yellows. The film works on a purely subconscious level - because of the length of the film, you are hardly able to comprehend what you are viewing, and then it is over. The color streams jump out at a very fast rate, and the title Night Music is apt. Brakhage's films (despite this one not having any music) have a definite music quality to them, and Night Music is no exception. There is a jazz-like rhythm to the movement of the colors onscreen here. 

What does the film mean? Like almost all Brakhage films, there is a subjective quality here that is hard to pin down. Our minds will see different things in the images depending on what experience we bring to the film. Some have likened the images in Night Music to the cosmos and outer space, a theme that appears often in Brakhage's work. Others see oceans or fires. One interesting experiment would be to break down the film into the component paintings that comprise it and view the paintings on a singular level. It would be interesting to see if Brakhage ever exhibited the paintings in this way. This would give a sense of the scale and the effort required to produce these hand-painted films. One gets the sense that the film is moving too fast to even appreciate the artistry that went into making it. We are eager here at Cinephilic Musings to view more of Stan Brakhage's hand-painted films.



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