Peyote Queen (de Hirsch, 1965) was a wild viewing experience full of psychedelic animations and kaleidoscopic images. In the flashing, multi-colored drawings over black that occur forty seconds into the film, there are the symbols of male (♂) and female (♀), along with other undefinable images. When the split screen shots begin, we are treated to a barrage of abstract, kaleidoscopic images of varying colors, most prominently red and yellow. Two minutes and seventeen seconds into the film, de Hirsch finally gives viewers a decipherable image, seemingly a woman’s breast, but even this definable feature is still abstracted into a kaleidoscopic form. Shortly after, there is a stark music change, jumping from an intense drum beat to an upbeat tune (3:07). With this shift in sound, de Hirsch presents us with colorful, flashing drawings of lips, flowers, eyes, breasts, and a clock, just to name a few. However, this upbeat section is short-lived, as we once again return to the intense drum beats over abstract drawings and kaleidoscopic images. The final two minutes are by far the most abstract, presenting us with blurry, kaleidoscopic shots of indecipherable objects. I don’t know if there is any concrete meaning to the film, but it seems de Hirsch sought to give viewers an experience of sensory confusion, ultimately attempting to make us comfortable with viewing something we can’t understand in words. The use of symbols in the film might relate to the idea of how humans interpret arbitrary signs into certain meanings, and it is interesting to note that the upbeat music plays over the section in which these decipherable symbols appear. When the intense drum beat is playing, the images are much more abstract, possibly representing how humans fear looking at things they can’t understand. I relate to this, as I at first tried to find concrete meanings in the abstract images of Peyote Queen. However, by the end of de Hirsch’s film, I found that I had accepted the incomprehensibility of the images and simply appreciated the abstractions on-screen. Do you think the drawings of lips, flowers, eyes, etc. serve any deeper meaning in de Hirsch’s film?
Samadhi (Belson, 1967) was an entrancing film of celestial-like imagery that felt incredibly grand in scale. What fascinated me most was the fact that I could not once decipher any of the images I was seeing or figure out how Belson created/filmed them. It is interesting to consider that Belson’s film was influenced by his experiences with yoga and Buddhism. While I don’t have much knowledge or experience in either of these fields, I would describe the vibe/feeling of watching Samadhi as meditative and can understand how Belson sought to create a “trip through the chakras” (de Chardin, 172). What do you think of Belson’s statement that Samadhi is “a documentary of the human soul” (de Chardin, 171)?
T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G (Sharits, 1969) was a challenging film that toyed with my aural and visual perceptions. The film primarily consists of four rapidly shifting shots: a man holding scissors to his tongue, a hand over the man’s mouth, a close-up of an eyeball surgery, and a close-up of genitalia. Throughout the entire runtime, a voice repeats the word “destroy,” but the word quickly becomes abstracted in the mind of the viewer through its rapid repetition. By the end of the film, “destroy” had morphed into “this straw,” “distraught,” “his story,” and numerous other sounds in my mind. After our screening, Professor Zinman mentioned that this was an anti-war film. While I don’t completely grasp the connection, it might have something to do with the idea of how someone’s mind can be manipulated into holding certain meanings. Through the repetition of the word “destroy” combined with flashing imagery, my brain conjured up different words and sounds even though no other words are spoken in the film. This might show the power that the presentation of words and images has in shaping a person’s perception, relating to a country’s indoctrination of its soldiers into blindly fighting for their side. What do you think the images of the film have to do with the anti-war message?