Several months ago, I went through pretty much all of Stan Brakhage’s 35mm painted originals to figure out what was up with them regarding their condition, production process, and what they might need in terms of preservation.
Now, maybe this is something some people have already noticed, but personally I was surprised to discover that Stan created Hell Spit Flexion (1983) by painting over a 35mm print of The Garden of Earthly Delights (1981). The photo here is of the painted original, and you can see this magenta faded print of Garden… underneath the paint, particularly in the lower center (as it’s oriented in this photo) of the middle frame.
The color in the underlying print of Garden… is faded because, as many of you probably know, Eastman Kodak’s color print stock (in particular) had major dye stability problems up to about 1982, when it was reformulated to “low-fade” LPP stock following a major outcry and ultimatum from dozens of filmmaking luminaries (one of whom was Stan Brakhage).
So there is already a 35mm internegative of the film, made in 1983 from this painted original, which could sensibly be considered an “original negative” of sorts. However, if we decided to go back to this painted original to make a new preservation negative, the faded color of the underlying Garden… print would make it very difficult (or perhaps impossible) to match the original appearance of the film at the time of its making.
Here’s another picture from the original, this time of the titlecard. Notice how it’s actually made up of the original blank copyright notice frames from Garden… (time to get out your Criterion DVD), except with “Hell Spit Flexion” scratched in, and the copyright year changed (also via scratching) from “1981” to “1983”. (For that matter, Hell Spit Flexion is on the Criterion DVD too, as part of The Dante Quartet (1987), although it might be hard to compare, as it’s the tiniest part of the Quartet.)
That’s all for now… as I said in the previous post, let me know if you think the watermarking thing is OK, or annoying, or ineffectual, or whatever. Thanks!