Lost in the Movies: The Stars Are Beautiful

The Stars Are Beautiful

[Thanks to Rommel Wells, whose My Space page - which I googled - allowed me to copy and paste Brakhage's text instead of having to transcribe it all myself.]

Stan Brakhage's 1974 film The Stars Are Beautiful is unusual among his works, primarily because it features a soundtrack, in the form of a narration (as well as direct sound which accompanies home-video footage of his children clipping a chicken's wings). He wrote the voiceover himself over the course of a month or two: growing tired of the same old creation myths, he invented a new one every night - imaginative speculations on where the stars, sun, and moon came from. The film itself is not one of his strongest works but the narration is inventive, humorous, often silly, and occasionally quite stirring. Here it is, in full:

The Stars Are Beautiful
by Brakhage

There's a wall there; a great dark wall with holes in it. Behind the wall is an enormous fire of white flame.

The stars are entirely in the eyes of those who are looking at the sky; if no one is looking at the sky, it is entirely dark. The stars in the eyes are very much the same in all eyes, and those looking at the sky at the same time are all participating in the kinds of communication that have to do with stars.

It's a great roof, studded with sequins. The movement of the stars is in relationship with the movement of the sun, giving the impression that the stars are moving across the sky.

The stars are optical nerve-endings of the eye which the universe is.

Sparks from the train of God's thought. I have one big toe in bronze and the other in eternity.

There is such an intense brightness that we can't really see it. The sky is really burning white and the stars are black. The daytime is less bright and therefore the yellow—that is really there in daytime—we see as blue. The sun we see as yellow—it is really blue-black. That that we see as blue sky is burning away the black spot of the Sun. And the sky at night is burning away at the black stars. Novalis has seen the Sun as black, and so has everyone who has closed his or her eyes on it. Retention-colors are the only true colors.

The stars are sparks of lightening.

The stars are the loopholes in the two hundred and fifty six dimensions.

The fact is: the earth is falling into a well; the Sun is the top of the well, the blue sky the walls. The stars are reflections of the real stars behind the Sun.

It is a furry animal—the stars are silver hairs.

The sky is a …cylinder to the moon.

The sky is altogether not composed of such great distances as we suppose. In truth, it is an old fire. The stars are sparks. The Sun a burning coal.

The black of the sky at night is ashes in a bubbling drop of water. This is the same with us—i.e., as the universe burns, so do we. Our heads contain water very much like the sky holds moons. The burning in us keeps the water in our heads boiling and sputtering.

The sky is the dead, decaying body of God. The stars are glittering maggots.

It is the back of a blue dragon, and we are the eye of the dragon, watching him die. The Sun is the blood-hole.

The sky is a cup of tea, which the Earth drinks every day, then at night inverts the cup to read the leaves.

The sky is a lens of air magnifying a single atom of itself.

There was one of these stories that I liked but didn't believe, so neither Jane nor I could remember it.

This one's fairly traditional: The Sun is the ejaculation of the penis in the vagina of the universe. The stars are the sperms searching for the eggs of moons.

The universe is part of a vast brain, the stars the firing of the brain cells, each a visualization of the bark of a dog. I.e. when a dog barks, the response of the ear of the sky is a star; when a dog howls, the response is the Moon.

The Sun is where everything else goes to a further place or places, and we really don't know what happens there.

The stars are trembling silver strings to everyone's brains; the Sun and Moon are the eyes of the great puppeteer. Once a month he smiles and winks. He has control of our fates.

The day sky is a pool of all of our tears. The world is getting smaller and smaller. The night sky is a blotter to all our black thoughts. There is very little space left.

The sky is the low-water beach on which are left phosphorous and plankton, which will grow to be enormous beasts.

Light is everywhere, and the sky draws everything to it that we make. For instance, it draws our air and condenses it, until it becomes black with our breathing. And it draws water in gigantic drops which we see as stars. It draws the Earth in streams until it blazes golden. And finally, it draws all our fire into the ash of the Moon.

The Earth is a pool of brown watery waves in a forest of trees we see as stars near a golden bird flying after its white mate.

The stars are clear sounds. The Sun a magnificent silence. The Moon? Whispers, that are almost sounds in the undulating wave of noise the universe is.

The sky is the solid state of time. The Sun? Its emergence. The Moon, the tube it falls into. The stars are the fragments that never move on.

God, taking pity on those who stopped smoking made the stars to look like so many cigarettes burning. The clouds to look like smoke. The Sun to remind them of the striking of a match. And the Moon in the shape of a filter-tip.

The night-sky is a fold-over pattern of the Sun…the Moon is a visual echo.

The stars are a flock of hummingbirds; if you look closely, you can see their wings flickering. The Sun and Moon are their flowers.

The Sun, Moon and stars are the footprints of God. We are his head, as he walks currently in a circle.

Everything is happening at once, but the sky is a clock, and makes things look like they are happening one at a time.

The stars and the Moon are reflections of the Sun, which can't be seen.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was in the sky at night only the Moon, as now in the day there is only the Sun. Then some wise men projected into the sky hieroglyphs of their thoughts so that everyone who looked after that would know those thoughts and be wise also.

The stars are the places where snowflakes are made. Each star has a different shape and makes a different shaped snowflake. When the snowflakes fall from the stars, they shrink and become changed in shape. And thus, every snowflake is also a different shape.

The stars are the broken fragments of the mirror that reflects reality.

Big dust motes.

The nets are boiling.

This post was originally published on The Sun's Not Yellow.

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