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Treasures IV: American Avant Garde 1947-1986 (2 Disc)

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

26 Major Avant Garde Films from 27 artists from Bruce Baillie to Andy Warhol who worked outside the mainstream and redefined American cinema are collected in this stunning, five-hour set sampling an array of film types and styles. An array of film styles from animation to documentary are showcased in this collection of classics and rediscoveries, selected from five of the nation's foremost avant-garde film archives.
Featured Films include: Here I Am (Bruce Baillie), Aleph (Wallace Berman), The Riddle of Lumen (Stan Brakhage), Eyewash (Robert Breer), Bridges-Go-Round (Shirley Clarke), By Night with Torch and Spear (Joseph Cornell), Peyote Queen (Storm De Hirsch), Nostalgia (Hollis Frampton), Fog Line (Larry Gottheim), Little Stabs at Happiness (Ken Jacobs), Hamfat Asar (Lawrence Jordan), I, an Actress (George Kuchar), New Improved Institutional Quality (Owen Land), Necrology (Standish Lawder), Note to Patti (Saul Levine), The End (Christopher Maclaine), Notes on the Circus (Jonas Mekas), Go! Go! Go! (Marie Menken), The Off-Handed Jape... and How to Pull It Off (Robert Nelson & William T. Wiley), 7362 (Pat O'Neill), Chumlum (Ron Rice), Bad Burns (Paul Sharits), Odds & Ends (Jane Conger Belson Shimane), Film No. 3: Interwoven (Chick Strand), Mario Banana (No. 1) (Andy Warhol)

Featuring newly recorded music by John Zorn, a 70-page book of program notes with a forward by Martin Scorsese, more than 200 interactive screens, and 2 postcards from the films.

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Smith
  • Directors: Andy Warhol, Bruce Baillie, George Kuchar, Harry Smith, Joseph Cornell
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 2
  • DVD Release Date: November 10, 2011
  • Run Time: 312 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0065QD4K6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,521 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Douglas M. May on March 18, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My first encounter with the American Avant-Garde occurred in the mid-70's, when the Museum of Modern Art sponsored a six-part retrospective at one of the local cultural venues. I remember the initial program included Kenneth Anger's "Fireworks" and--I believe--Maya Deren's "Meshes of the Afternoon." The hall was filled to capacity. With each successive showing, attendance declined by 50%. By the final showing six weeks later--which featured "nostalgia" by Hollis Frampton and George Landau's "Bardo Follies"--the audience had shrunk to no more than a dozen people, myself included. One of my friends wouldn't speak to me for months because I'd made him sit though a Paul Sharits flicker film.

Probably no other art form has alienated audiences in America like the experimental film. Casual viewers can at least accept non-objective art as decorative, casual listeners can handle some electronica and even the prepared piano music of John Cage as background music. But only a tiny minority of people can seem to put aside their Hollywood prejudices to meet experimental cinema halfway.

There are multiple sticking points. There is usually no "story," as such. Editing is employed to confound the viewer's expectations more often than to further the plot or to create a spurious identification with the characters. Non-diegetic music, which is used in most Hollywood films to "cue" the audience's emotions, is notably absent. There are no chase scenes, contrived coincidences, or shock endings. In other words, none of the conventions which television and Hollywood movie fans have come to expect.

In exchange, the willing viewer gets to experience something truly challenging and potentially life altering--a chance to explore film as a metaphor for consciousness itself.
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Format: DVD
This set contains 26 Avant Garde films never before on VHS or DVD. The artists/directors include those who worked outside the mainstream of cinema for much of their careers. The running time is five hours and includes animation, documentary, and live-action shorts. This set is more like the first "Treasures" in that it is more modern in its content. Treasures 2 and three are more for film buffs that are interested in cinema up to the year 1930. I believe that all of these films are very short (under one half hour) in length. Below I show the film, the director, and the year it was made if I can find that information.

Featured Films include:
"Here I Am" (Bruce Baillie) - 1962,
"Aleph" (Wallace Berman),
"The Riddle of Lumen" (Stan Brakhage) - 1972,
"Eyewash" (Robert Breer) -1959,
"Bridges-Go-Round" (Shirley Clarke) - 1958,
"By Night with Torch and Spear" (Joseph Cornell),
"Pey ote Queen" (Storm De Hirsch),
"nostalgia" (Hollis Frampton),
"Fog Line" (Larry Gottheim) - 1970,
"Little Stabs at Happiness" (Ken Jacobs) - 1960,
"Hamfat Asar" (Lawrence Jordan),
"I, an Actress (George Kuchar) - 1970,
"New Improved Institutional Quality" (Owen Land) - 1969,
"Necrology" (Standish Lawder) -1971,
"Note to Patti" (Saul Levine),
"The End" (Christopher Maclaine) -1953,
"Notes on the Circus" (Jonas Mekas) - 1966,
"Go! Go! Go!" (Marie Menken) - 1964,
"The Off-Handed Jape... and How to Pull It Off" (Robert Nelson & William T. Wiley),
"7362" (Pat O'Neill) - 1989,
"Chumlum" (Ron Rice) - 1964,
"Bad Burns" (Paul Sharits) ,
"Odds & Ends" (Jane Conger Belson Shimane),
"Film No. 3: Interwoven" (Chick Strand) - 1979,
"Mario Banana (No. 1)" (Andy Warhol) -1964

A 70-page book of program notes will be included that is in the same format as the program notes in the other Treasures from the Film Archives sets.
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Format: DVD
Really, you can't argue with a two disc, five hour set that truly delivers at the rate this does, including newly remastered films previously unavailable on video or DVD by artists like Stan Brakhage, Marie Menken, Ken Jacobs, George Kuchar, Hollis Frampton and many, many more. The packaging is fantastic, coming in a great thick case to house both DVDs and the greatly informative booklet with about 1 1/2 to 2 pages of text about each contributing film maker. Some films here include an optional sound track of new music by Anthology Film Archives composer-in-residence John Zorn. This particularly works with Wallace Berman's "Aleph." In fact, the optional soundtracks for many of these offer a little insight. For example, Shirley Clarke's "Bridges Go Round" has the option to play either the original track intended for it by Louis and Bebe Barron, or music by Teo Macero, composed later on as a replacement soundtrack after copyright troubles forbid the use of the Barron track. Shirley, as the booklet illustrates, would often screen both versions of "Bridges" back to back, and you can do the same here.
Ron Rice's "Chumlum" is another great inclusion; it contains a classic performance by one of the most influential people in the New York underground, Jack Smith, and haunting music by Angus MacLise that both perfectly compliment Rice's intricate costuming, unreal multiple superimpositions and jarring angles. This collection is essential for a lover of independant cinema, and completely worth it even if only for "Chumlum," Stan Brakhage's "Riddle of Lumen," and Joseph Cornell's "By Night with Torch and Spear." Your money will go quite far on this purchase.
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