UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences present

Stan Brakhage: The Pittsburgh Documents

Deus Ex (1971)
July 20, 2013 - 7:30 pm
In-person: 
Werner Herzog.

Without question one of cinema’s most influential and prolific artists, Stan Brakhage (1933-2003) created a monumentally significant and expressive body of work that spanned 50 years and over 350 films.  For five decades, Brakhage worked in a highly distinctive, individualistic vein, mining celluloid cinema and--at least in his hands--its seemingly limitless potential for the articulation of raw subjective experience and pre-linguistic vision.  The Academy Film Archive has been actively preserving and restoring Brakhage’s body of work since his collection was deposited there in 2004.  In a career loaded with countless visionary works, Brakhage’s The Pittsburgh Documents (often called The Pittsburgh Trilogy) are a trio of acknowledged masterworks, and represent a radical approach to the concept of a cinematic document (as opposed to documentary) rooted in subjective observation.  By training his eyes and the film medium on three subjects he felt were elusive, inscrutable, even fearful in their universality, Brakhage sought to gain some empathic foothold--if not an understanding--in these realms of authority (police), illness (hospital) and death (morgue).

This screening features the World Premiere of new preservations by the Academy Film Archive.  UCLA and the Academy are honored to be joined by filmmaker Werner Herzog, friend and admirer of Brakhage, to discuss The Pittsburgh Documents, cinematic truth and Brakhage the artist with Academy preservationist Mark Toscano.

The Pittsburgh Documents--eyes (1971), Deus Ex (1971), The Act of Seeing with one’s own eyes (1971)--were preserved by the Academy Film Archive with support from The Film Foundation. 

Total running time of program:  approx. 160 min.


Restoration World Premiere!

eyes (1971)

Directed by Stan Brakhage

“After wishing for years to be given-the-opportunity of filming some of the more ‘mystical’ occupations of our Times––some of the more obscure Public Figures which the average imagination turns into ‘bogeymen’ ... viz: Policemen, Doctors, Soldiers, Politicians, etc.: -- I was at last permitted to ride in a Pittsburgh police car, camera in hand, the final several days of September 1970.” —Stan Brakhage.

16mm, color, silent, 35.5 min.

Deus Ex (1971)

Directed by Stan Brakhage

“I nearly died several times in hospitals and additionally I’ve been very sick in hospitals a number of other times.  And so with all this experience in hospitals it loomed in great terror for me.  And here was the need to confront that terror, and then to try to understand in some overall sense what the hospital is in its own activities, separate from whatever use I might have of it.  And so out comes a film called Deus Ex.  The reference is to Deus Ex Machina, the machine of the gods. I leave the third word off this term quite deliberately because I’m not after the machine.” —Stan Brakhage.

16mm, color, silent, 32.5 min.

The Act of Seeing with one’s own eyes (1971)

Directed by Stan Brakhage

“...Stan Brakhage, entering, with his camera, one of the forbidden, terrific locations of our culture, the autopsy room.  It is a place wherein, inversely, life is cherished, for it exists to affirm that no one of us may die without knowing exactly why.” —Hollis Frampton.

16mm, color, silent, 32 min.

Please Note: This film contains graphic autopsy imagery.