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The Mammals of Victoria

Stan Brakhage

USA, 1994
30 minutes, Colour, Silent
Available formats: 16mm

‘The film begins with a series of horizontally-running ocean tide waves, sometimes with mountains in the background, hand-painted patterns, sometimes step-printed hand-painting, abstractions composed of distorted (jammed) T.V. shapes in shades of blue with occasional red, refractions of light within the camera lens, sometimes mixed with reflections of water – this ‘weave’ of imagery occasionally reveals recognisable shapes of birds and humans, humans as fleeting figures in the water, as distant shapes in a rowboat, as human shadows and so forth. Increasingly closer images of water, and of light reflected off water, as well as of bursts of fire, intersperse the long shots, the seascapes and all the other interwoven imagery. Eventually a distant volley ball arcs across the sky filled with cumulus clouds: this is closely followed by, and interspersed with, silhouettes of a young man and woman in the sea, which leads to some extremely out-of-focus images from a front car window, an opening between soft-focus trees, a clearing. Carved wooden teeth suddenly sweep across the frame. Then the film ends on some soft-focus horizon lines, foregrounded by ocean, slowly rising and falling and rising again in the frame. This film is a companion piece to A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea.’ – S.B.