Monday, December 14, 2015

Bruce Bickford's Cas'l is finally released on DVD + some musings

I've been waiting and dreaming of this for so long I had given up hope and completely forgotten about it, but I just checked out of the blue and it is here at last!!!

Here's a very old video - I haven't been able to find a recent trailer or anything:

This clip is interlaced - I'm sure for the DVD release it's got the deluxe treatment.

Here's the ordering page on his website: Cas'l DVD

I tried to order the special edition from eBay but nothing was found there. Only 100 copies were released, so I guess they're already sold out.

I posted about this on and made some observations about Bruce and his work - a subject I've long been fascinated with. I'll collect those posts here along with the video clips I linked there:

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He tends heavily toward mythology. I happened to be reading Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth last night and he says just about every culture developed myths in which characters are killed and dissolve into the ground, only to spring forth in different forms - usually as vegetation. These are the myths of people who had recently switched from hunting to agriculture, so now their lives depend on the fecundity of the soil. Bickford's stuff is filled with that, plus characters devouring other characters and mutating into new forms. Heavily archetypal/mythological/psychological stuff. That's why it doesn't follow typical story form - it's more like dream logic.

Bruce is looking like a holy man/ visionary these days:

I noticed another odd convergence between Bickford's work and mythology. He likes to mix up different scales - little puppets beside big ones etc. In Monster Road he's sitting in front of a big window that looks out over a vast expanse of landscape and he says he used to dream of walking "out there" and finding that the houses are really as tiny as they look, and he's like a giant.

Joseph Campbell also talked about the differences between the mythology of forest people versus plains people - the forest people never see the open sky or a horizon line, or anything at a great distance, if they would step out onto the plain they'd think distant things are actually as small as they look and much closer than they really are. Weird that I happen to be reading this just now.

Bickford also seems to be obsessed with growing and shrinking characters and objects - very Alice in Wonderland.

Not only does he look like our idea of a visionary, but he does seem to have access to a glimpse of the primordial forces inside human nature, though as is so often true in mythology his visions are tragic because of some terrible price a visionary always has to pay for that power (like Odin losing an eye to drink from Mimir's well and then only being able to forsee the deaths of all the gods).

I think the reason I'm tuned in to Bruce is because I'm always interested in psychology and especially the subconscious. Mythology is practically a map of the human psyche, since it represents stories and rituals from pre-scientific times that reveal how we thought about nature and our place in it, how we warded off things that frightened us and the various ways in which we put a human face on the mysterious universe - the abyss looking back into us. This is why Freud and Jung made most of their insights by studying mythology. And Bruce seems to exist at a primitive, subconscious level in many ways, mostly because of his complexes and what he refers to as 'dyslexia' that makes it hard for him to differentiate between the 'macrocosm and the microcosm'. Lol well and also all the drugs he did in the 60's!

There are several more new Bickford clips online (new since a few years ago when I last checked) - Monster Road and Prometheus' Garden are up in their entirety now. Not legal I'm sure, but if people can finally see the films some might decide to buy the DVDs and support Bruce.

There are also a couple of clips of him giving talks. Interesting to hear him say he wished his animation was more coherent and had more of a story to it. At one point he said it's like looking into a washing machine, just everything moving all at once, and seeing it makes him feel nervous. He said when he animates he's not worried about story, he just wants to get something on film. This confirms my suspicions that his animation is done compulsively, as a warding-off. I feel like I'm getting to know him on some level now. I notice he sometimes uses phrases his dad used in Monster Road, and that the countless newspaper and magazine pictures George had taped up all over the walls in his house seem to be the material Bruce uses in his films - 20th century American cultural icons and pop culture references.

Historically there's always been a link between madness and prophecy or holiness, because madness opens up the unconscious and brings forth the archetypal forces that normally lie dormant until we're undergoing some important transition or crisis. The disturbed mind constantly sees those nightmarish visions that are locked away most of the time for the rest of us. And psychedelic drugs also open up the consciousness for those who are tuned in to the deep insights. Thinking of it this way it's easy to see why prophecy is always associated with madness and tragedy - they seem to be the price of profound insight into the psyche.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

My new film analysis blog has dropped

I've finally gone public with it. It was created to contain my Black Swan analysis, which has been in the works for some time. It's actually not fully finished yet (the Black Swan analysis), but then each time I think it is I end up discovering new stuff that requires further investigation and more writing, so I decided to go ahead and post it - it'll be a work in progress for some time now.

The latest post is a quick stream-of-consciousness writeup on the character web in Marvel's Jessica Jones, the new Netflix series. Turns out it's all built around abuse and trauma, and examines it in many ways, which for me makes it a  very intriguing show. I love when a work of fiction is built around some theme or idea, and I tend toward the more psychological ones, so this is right up my alley. I also am strongly interested in character driven drama, and JJ is an excellent example of that as well.

So, if you're interested in that sort of thing, pop on by and check it out!!

Oh hey - maybe I should post a link!