Anticipation of the Night | Chicago Reader

Anticipation of the Night

A landmark in the career of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, this 1958 silent film (42 min.) establishes the principle of organizing images through rhythm rather than narrative or mood, an idea that's served him well over the subsequent decades. Yet the formal innovation is balanced by real emotion: crushingly bleak, the film chronicles the failed attempts of a cameraman (Brakhage), who appears as a shadow in some frames, to enter the landscapes before him or join children at play. Disjunctive editing and frequent repetitions compete with sections of stunningly lyrical light poetry; ultimately the film becomes a struggle between the life and death drives. Other Brakhages on the bill: Cat's Cradle (1959, 6 min.), a spooky drama of strange connections between characters, and The Animals of Eden and After (1970, 35 min.), a poetic meditation on the conflict between language and freedom in which animals and objects become fixed by their names.


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