Dog Star Man (1961 ) by Stan Brakhage
The first noticeable aspect of this film is its use of dialectical montage. This is apparent because it is comprised of briefly moving images; these images briefly appear and contrast with following images. The images are seemingly unrelated but there is a constant, abstract, motifs that appear throughout the film. The first is the amber or reddish orange color that appears in the beginning. Personally, it makes me think of the surface of a new planet. (I could be wrong, but I believe new planets look molten or lava-like.) Also, it reminds me of flesh when you shine a flashlight through it or hold it close to a camera. The second images I noticed were ocean and nature related. They contrast heavily with the first, however, they are more recognizable to the viewer. Perhaps they are part of a narrative? There is also a close-up of a bearded face that appears occasionally. Is this the main character? Some times he appears with the silhouette of a thorny push which could be metaphorical prop relating to Christianity or directly to Jesus Christ, but I do not know if the director did that on purpose.
There is a lot of astronomical symbolism in the film. The moon and the sun appear most often. These appear as starkly contrasted with various colors such as black, red, or grey. Also, they contrast with the microscopic overlay that frequently appears over the images. A colorful overlay filled with moving spots often shows over the images, these could be bacteria or just any general small organism. The cosmic and microscopic imagery show the extremities of the natural world.
I am not sure whether this is accurate, but I believe this film mainly represents the beginning of something (vague I know). This is supported because this is the first part of the entire film.
Is there a narrative to this film? Or is it just random scenes?
Scorpio Rising (1963) by Kenneth Anger
This film is a more concrete and less abstract but weirdly haunting. It focuses on the activities of a counterculture youth. He is a big fan of masculine characters like James Dean and is a part of a biker subculture. He is completely fixated on his motorcycle. There is evidence he was honorable discharged from the military and continues to wear militaristic clothing. He seems to be in pursuit to be as masculine as possible.
They participate in progressive, but taboo, homosexual ritualistic activities. Even today the ritualistic and dark imagery is taboo. It can be considered satanic or occultist. Homosexuality is more accepted today; however, it still often accompanies the perception of being feminine. This film seems to challenge that. However, the occult becomes evil when we later learn it’s associated with Nazism.
What is the film saying about the counterculture? Is it progressive or regressive (pro-lgbt or pro-Nazi)? What is the director’s message?