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DOG STAR MAN (director/writer: Stan Brakhage; cinematographer: Stan Brakhage; editor: Stan Brakhage;cast: Stan Brakhage (Dog Star man), Jane Brakhage (woman); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; Mystic Fire Video; 1964)
“Regarded by Brakhage fans as his masterpiece.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Prolific avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage’s (“Window Water Baby Moving”/”The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes“/”23rd Psalm Branch”), one of cinema’s least known by the public but most influential innovators, epic film is a non-linear and plotless meditation on man’s place in the universe (the mythical Dog Star man) and the need to find enlightenment through his struggle with the everyday world. It takes us into unusual non-traditional cinema turf, as the driven artistic Brakhage aims to reveal the universal in its particulars.

The magical, one of a kind, film consists of a prelude and four parts.

The Prelude explores the following: 1-The four elements-air, earth, fire and water; 2-The cosmos represented by the sun, moon and stars; 3-The personal life of Brakhage that includes his household, his dog Sirius, his cat, his baby and his nude wife Jane. 4-The use of filmmaking techniques such as painting or scratching on film.

Part One-Explores in minute detail a single action, with each an isolated piece to be appreciated for what is within the contect of the whole. Part Two-How things get extended into living film. Part Three-The bringing together of striving and fertility. Part- Four-In the life cycle, it includes with a study to discover what is death.

It has been regarded by Brakhage fans as his masterpiece, in the over 300 films he completed before his death in 2003 at age 70. One can’t judge this film the same way a linear film is judged. This uniquely special experimental film takes movies in a radically different direction than the traditional film. I wish I could say I enjoyed it as much as I respected it.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”