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Film / Dog Star Man

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Dog Star Man is an experimental 1964 film by Stan Brakhage.

It was originally made in five parts between 1961 and 1964. Specifically, the film consists of a "Prelude" (25 min), and Parts I, II, III, and IV (30 min, 6 min, 8 min, and 6 min), totaling a 75 minute running time. The parts are typically shown together as a single film. The film has surreal and often incomprehensible imagery, with extreme closeups, shots out of focus, superimpositions, and film that was manually scratched or painted. The story, to the extent that there is one, mostly involves a man and his dog climbing a mountain and chopping down a dead tree. There are also many shots of the sun (the "star" in Dog Star Man), suggesting creation. There are also shots of a woman who engages in sexual intercourse with the man, as well as shots of a crying child, suggesting family and birth.

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Tropes:

  • Blade-of-Grass Cut: Many. One shot has the camera positioned in front of bare twigs on what must be a tree in winter. The focus of the camera changes, starting with the farthest away twigs and then gradually moving to the twigs that are closest to the camera.
  • The Determinator: The man, who keeps trying to get up that mountain to chop down the tree. That's the whole of Part I. In some shots the image is tilted so that the incline the man is struggling up is nearly vertical.
  • Fanservice: A naked woman in what appears to be a sex dream the man has.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Many extreme and unappealing close-ups of what appears to be the man's stubbly face.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: A surrealistic portrait of creation and life, but little attempt at a coherent narrative.
  • Silence Is Golden: No dialogue or soundtrack of any sort.
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  • Stock Footage: Stock footage of the sun and moon and especially the sun's corona is a motif.
  • Stylistic Suck: Many, many, many shots which are blurry and out-of-focus, often with the camera whipping around madly. Obviously Stylistic Suck as other shots prove that Brakhage and/or whoever was holding the camera were perfectly capable of focusing it.
  • Whip Pan: Lots and lots of sequences of the camera whipping around.
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