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Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight: Audio Visual Transmission Guide #6/52a

Stan Brakhage-Mothlight-1963-2

I recently posted about an article at the BFI’s website called “Six films that fed into The Duke of Burgundy”.

One of those films is Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight from 1963, which is a short experimental silent film created without a camera but rather he “collected moth wings, flower petals, and blades of grass, and pressed them between two strips of 16mm splicing tape. The resulting assemblage was then contact printed at a lab to allow projection in a cinema. The objects chosen were required to be thin and translucent, to permit the passage of light.”

Stan Brakhage-Mothlight-1963-3b

It creates a constantly changing collage of those collected items and there is an unsettling, dreamlike (or should that be nightmare-like) night and forest walk scene in the later part of The Duke Of Burgundy that very explicitly references and takes inspiration from it.

Stan Brakhage-Mothlight-1963

Here is Peter Strickland on such things:

“The inclusion of an obscure reference done in an obvious fashion can be precarious in terms of what that reveals about a director’s motivations. At worst, the act of homage is merely posing and diverting attention onto the director rather than the film, but when done organically and effectively, as with both Greenaway at his best and Tarantino, it enriches the film and places it within a wider (albeit self-imposed) lineage that can be rewarding for the curious viewer.”


For myself such referencing in The Duke Of Burgundy has been rewarding partly in the way that it has sent me off down various pathways of discovery and/or revisiting, Stan Brakhage’s work being one of those.

So, aside from the creation of a golden, shimmering dream world to step into, tip of the hat to Peter Strickland for that.

(File Under: Cathode Ray & Cinematic Explorations, Radiowave Resonations & Audiological Investigations)

AVT Guide listing: Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight


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