by Jane Wodening (Brakhage)
Brakhage's Childhood recounts the story of visionary American filmmaker Stan Brakhage's (1933-2003) life up to age 12. In 1983 Stan and Jane Brakhage began a series of interviews wherein Stan described his life and Jane took notes. Each session yielded a chapter and each chapter usually a place. After each interview Jane organized, wrote and edited the stories. After two years they had 23 chapters in 100,000 words. "He had the most amazing memory I had ever encountered," says Jane, who writes: "This is a biography of a child, taken from the memory of that child grown up. I can only assume that we stopped the interviews, stopped the book, stopped the marriage, at exactly the right moment. Stan and I worked together a lot in his medium; this time, we worked together in my medium."
“Jane Wodening has given the nascent field of Brakhage studies a Rosetta Stone and a canonical text. Channeling her ex-husband (which is to say, taking him as a male muse) in this first-person account of his convoluted, Depression-era early life, she has produced a beautifully crafted analogue or prequel to Scenes From Under Childhood. Brakhage’s movie memories are crucial as are his memories of singing hosannas in an Episcopal church. The notion that, as an adopted child, he imagined that he might have been fathered by Thomas Wolfe, complete with circumstantial evidence, is material for a dissertation in itself. ‘We forget of what great intellectual accomplishments and of what complicated emotions a child of four years is capable,’ Freud wrote in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Brakhage’s Childhood helps remind us.”
— J. Hoberman