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Performing Arts History & Criticism

The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Charles Olson

by (author) R. Bruce Elder

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2011
History & Criticism
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 1998
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
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Since the late 1950s Stan Brakhage has been in the forefront of independent filmmaking. His body of work — some seventy hours — is one of the largest of any filmmaker in the history of cinema, and one of the most diverse. Probably the most widely quoted experimental filmmaker in history, his films typify the independent cinema.

Until now, despite well-deserved acclaim, there has been no comprehensive study of Brakhage’s oeuvre. The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition fills this void. R. Bruce Elder delineates the aesthetic parallels between Brakhage’s films and a broad spectrum of American art from the 1920s through the 1960s.

This book is certain to stir the passions of those interested in artistic critique and interpretation in its broadest terms.

About the author

R. Bruce Elder is a filmmaker, critic, and teacher (and former Program Director) in the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University. His film work has been screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Millennium Film Workshop, Berlin’s Kino Arsenal, Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the San Francisco Cinematheque, Atlanta’s High Museum, Los Angeles’ Film Forum, Stadtfilmmuseum München, and Hamburg’s Kino Metropolis. Retrospectives of his work have been presented by Anthology Film Archives (NY), the Art Gallery of Ontario, Cinématheque Québecoise, Il Festival Senzatitolo (Trento), Images Film and Video Festival (Toronto). Cinematheque Ontario has said this about him: “R. Bruce Elder is not only one of Canada’s foremost experimental filmmakers, he’s one of our greatest artists, thinkers, critics, and filmmakers, period.” Harmony & Dissent, his previous book on film and avant-garde art movements, was awarded the Robert Motherwell Book Prize, shortlisted for the Raymond Kilbansky Prize, and named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2010. His next book entitled DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect is forthcoming from WLU Press.

R. Bruce Elder's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"In R. Bruce Elder's The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Olson, the link between Brakhage and the great poetic voices of the 20th century is persuasively established....Elder's greatest accomplishment in this book is his ability to interweave varying disciplines so that the reader becomes acutely aware of the points of intersection between media. Despite its wide-ranging topic, The Films of Stan Brakhage is meticulously researched, remarkably lucid, and provides a compelling argument for Brakhage's place alongside these great thinkers of the 20th century."

Rain Taxi

"Elder evidences a brilliant command of Brakhage's immense filmography and a lifetime's engagement with the poets he discusses....In every reading there are traces of the lessons Brakhage's cinema can offer to open-minded an open-eyed artists. In fact, The films of Stan Brakhage is less an academic study than the enthusiastic and fully committed response of one filmmaker to another and to the modernist tradition they both share."

P. Adams Sitney

"This challenging and important work demands the attention of film historians, scholars, critics, theoreticians, and media and culture commentators. In addition to a select bibliography, there is a glossary, a filmography, and 58 pages of notes."

Canadian Book Review Annual

Other titles by R. Bruce Elder