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Avant-Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Jul 24, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

In the latter half of the 20th Century, Raymond Rohauer was one of the nation s foremost proponents of experimental cinema. This two-disc collection continues Kino s tribute to the Rohauer Collection, including the early works of Stan Brakhage and influential films by Willard Maas, Gregory Markopoulos, Marie Menken, Dimitri Kirsanoff, Jean Mitry, Sidney Peterson and others. The pièce de résistance is Jean Isidore Isou s passionate manifesto of film aesthetics Traité de bave et d eternité (Venom and Eternity), which sparked a riot when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951. This edition of Venom includes 34 minutes of footage never seen in the United States. (DISC 1) GEOGRAPHY OF THE BODY US 1943 B&W 7 Min. Directed by Willard Maas - THE MECHANICS OF LOVE US 1955 B&W 5 Min. Directed by Willard Maas and Ben Moore - VISUAL VARIATIONS ON NOGUCHI US 1945 B&W 4 Min. Directed by Marie Menken THE POTTED PSALM US 1946 B&W 18 Min. Directed by Sidney Peterson & James Broughton - THE CAGE US 1947 B&W 28 Min. Directed by Sidney Peterson - HOUSE OF CARDS US 1947 B&W 16 Min. Directed by Joseph Vogel - CHRISTMAS, U.S.A. US 1949 B&W 13 Min. Directed by Gregory J. Markopoulos - ADVENTURES OF JIMMY US 1950 B&W 10 Min. Directed by James Broughton INTERIM US 1952 B&W 24 Min. Directed by Stan Brakhage - UNGLASSED WINDOWS CAST A TERRIBLE REFLECTION US 1953 B&W 29 Min. Directed by Stan Brakhage - THE WAY TO SHADOW GARDEN US 1954 B&W 11 Min. Directed by Stan Brakhage - THE EXTRAORDINARY CHILD US 1954 B&W 13 Min. Directed by Stan Brakhage (DISC 2) REBUS-FILM NO.1
US 1928 B&W 15 Min. Directed by Paul Leni - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER US 1928 B&W 12 Min. Directed by James Watson & Melville Webber - PACIFIC 231 France 1949 B&W 10 Min. Directed by Jean Mitry - ARRIÈRE SAISON France 1950 B&W 15 Min. Directed by Dimitri Kirsanoff - TRAITÉ DE BAVE ET D ÈTERNITÉ (Venom and Eternity) France 1951 B&W 111 Min. Directed by Jean Isidore Isou

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Stan Brakhage
  • Directors: Stan Brakhage, Jean Mitry, James Broughton
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French, German, Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KINO VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: July 24, 2007
  • Run Time: 341 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QCU52U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,130 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Avant-Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thorkell Agust Ottarsson on August 22, 2007
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The First Avant Garde collection from Kino International is my all time favorite film collection. I was therefore quite exited when I learned that Kino was issuing another one. The following review is my humble opinion of this collection.

I have to admit that Avant Garde 2 is far from as good as the first one. The transfer is better (almost perfect) and the sound/music is really good, but many of the films are just kitsch. Some of the films are interesting while few of them are really good.

Almost all of the films are from USA which may explain the weakness of this collection (Avant Garde came late to maturity in America). Coriously the most famous American Avant Garde film is missing from this collection, Namely "Meshes of the Afternoon" by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. It does how ever have four early films by Brackage and two of them are really good ("Interim" and "Unglassed Windows Cast a Terrible Reflection"). The third good American film in this collection is the classic "The Fall of the House of Usher" by James Watson and Melville Webber (the transfer of the film is amazing).

There are three French films on the disk and all of them are excellent ("Pacific 231", "Arriere saison" and "Venom and Eternity"). Venom and Eternity is a classic Avant Garde masterpiece (presented in a longer version than previously seen in the USA; a 111 min. version). It has not lost any of its punches and is a must see for anyone interested in Avant Garde and the limits (and the nature) of the Film language.

To sum it up. There are 17 films in this collection, 6 of them are really good, about 4 are interesting, but the rest is kitsch (IMO).
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This is an essential collection of avant-garde titles from the 1940s and 1950s containing some very rare films. The films of Brakhage (at least his early titles), Marie Menken, Sidney Peterson, James Broughton and Gregory Markopoulos are all difficult to see and it is extremely valuable to have them in this collection. These are all major artists of the period who should be better known. Apart from Brakhage, who has a wonderful collection available on a Criterion disc, most of the these filmmakers' films have not been availble on DVD in the past. They are crucial to the early development of the American avant-garde in what has often been referred to as its "psycho-dramatic" or "trance" period. Whether we refer to them as psychodramas, trance films or simply poetic avant-garde films is not really what matters. They are important films and helped define what the medium was capable of, as well as redefining the idea of poetic cinema.
It's great to finally see Sidney Peterson's first film (made with James Broughton)on DVD (The Potted Psalm) as well as a Workshop 20 production made with students at the California School of Fine Arts (The Cage). I'd also love to see The Lead Shoes and Mrs. Frenhofer and the Monotaur finally released on DVD - perhaps in another future collection. Peterson is one of the few true surrealists of the cinema, and his work is mind-bendingly original. Markopoulos has been inaccessible for decades, so to have even one film (Christmas, USA) by him is important. Again more Markolpoulos next time. Broughton's films are available in a more complete, separate collection, so his film (Adventures of Jimmy) is less crucial to have but is nonetheless a welcome addition to the package.
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This second installment of avant-garde film is surely a keeper. It features works by Marie Menken, Sidney Petereson/James Broughton, Stan Brakhage, and interestingly Isadore Isou's "Venom and Eternity"(with extra footage!) The collection spans from the late twenties to the fifties. And don't forget Brakage's "Way to the Shadow Garden," a magnificent film. This collection is a must for any film person, or anyone simply interested in film as art. What a treat! Spend some time with it, combine it with stuff, it's safer than drugs. OK, are you convinced yet?Avant-Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954
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The films in this collection, mostly American and mostly short, are all interesting, although none of them has the power of the experimental films in the following two decades. They represent a striving to make a place for the filmmaker as obtrusive artist, breaking away from the smooth narrative style of Hollywood and other film centers. The coupling of these films with Isou's sensational polemic "Venom and Eternity" was, I though, really inspired; Isou's highly verbal manifesto, which is layered onto found film that has often been manually manipulated, clearly points toward the future. Nothing here stands out especially, but these films do present the opportunity to view some early Brackhage and a short piece by Gregory Markopoulos (whose films remain largely embargoed). The price is too high for what is basically an academic collection, unfortunately. Still, it is available in other venues and worth the effort to seek out.
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