Stellar (Stan Brakhage, 1993, USA)

Stellar is a late-stage work from director Stan Brakhage. The film, which seems to have been hand-painted, represents the legendary filmmaker's view of the cosmos. The film begins with different multi-color images of the cosmos flickering slowly. Within the course of a few seconds, the editing becomes rapid-fire. We are treated to a rapid succession of different color images that flow in and out of the frame, sometimes permeated with blues, greens, reds, and yellows. There is an effect that makes it seem as though stars are present. Like most of Brakhage's films, there is a hypnotic quality throughout. The film ends with what seems to be a shape moving. 

A cursory look at impressions of this film on YouTube and IMDb shows how divisive Brakhage's work can be. Some reviewers have even gone so far as to call the film "trash" or "boring". Brakhage is a Rorschach test. He is operating with an entirely different film language than the one we are traditionally accustomed to, and there is something in his works like listening to a foreign language for the first time. 

Like most of Brakhage's works, Stellar is open to interpretation. For some, it will recall the stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey - a psychedelic trip through various dimensions. Others have interpreted these images as primitive cave drawings. Interestingly, some people find the film scary, and there might be something menacing lurking beneath the surface of many of Brakhage's films. Other people find this film serene. I have noticed there is a tendency with Brakhage's films, most of which are silent, to add a musical soundtrack. This works particularly well for this film. Some people claim that they can see faces in Stellar, although we are not sure of this at Cinephilic Musings. Overall, Stellar is an interesting effort.



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