The film was produced by what seems to me like a groundbreaking technique at the time. Brakhage did not use a camera but pressed all the items he collected between two strips of 16mm Mylar tapes. The images seen are leaves, grass, and dead moth wings. According to Brakhage himself, the dead moths were brought back to life by the filmic machine when the film was played through the projector. That also reinforces the title of this film.
The basic principle of how film works is the projection of light on a screen. When the light reflection of the dead moths is presented on the screen, they seem to be brought back to life in another way to the audiences. It is the re-representation of life by inanimate objects.
The other interesting aspect of the film is how it focuses on the matter that is non-human. While normal films all have a primary focus on human and a narrative, Brakhage took elements of nature into consideration and presented an abstract expression short film about the life (or death) of plants and moths.
I find this film somehow similar in some sense to Mothlight. It also departs from the human-centered filmmaking we are used to.
The soundtrack is not pre-recorded but happens synchronously while the film is being played. Because McLaren assigned certain colors and shapes a corresponding note, audiences hear the sounds simultaneously while seeing the color when these images are projected. This concept is named as “graphical sound”, which particularly interests me.
Notes on (nostalgia) :
The film’s name is very suitable for the content. The whole film shows what happened in Frampton’s past by photographs and the narration by Michael Snow. What struck me is the act of burning photographs while telling each story. It seems to me that the slowly burning of each photo symbolizes the fading of each period of time that photo represents. By burning the photos while telling the story, Frampton creates a sense of nostalgia while actively recalling the past.
The photos bring me to recall one of the issues we discuss in class — index. The photos serve as an indirect existential bond between the real past, Frampton, and audiences (in this case also Snow). Before the next photo is shown, audiences see the previous (relatively) photo still in the process of completely turning to ashes while actively imagining the next story because the narrator already goes on telling the next one.
At last, I keep asking myself two questions: 1, Why are the photos burnt on a stove? 2, Why is the story narrated by another artist instead of Frampton himself?