Star Spangled To Death (2004) by Ken Jacobs

“extrait 1”

“extrait 2”

“extrait 3”

2007, 400 minutes, 16mm & video, b/w & color, sound

According to google video, here are three “extraits” (French for ‘extract’) from Ken Jacobs’ 2004 epic, Star Spangled To Death. The original film is much longer than these three extraits. (If the second video has trouble loading, refresh the page.)

Happy Birthday, America.

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STAR SPANGLED TO DEATH is an epic film shot for hundreds of dollars! combining found-films with my own more-or-less staged filming, it pictures a stolen and dangerously sold-out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Racial and religious insanity, monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war oppose a Beat playfulness.

A handful of artists costumed and performing unconvincingly appeal to audience imagination and understanding to complete the picture. Jack Smith’s pre-FLAMING CREATURES performance as The Spirit Not Of Life But Of Living (the movie has raggedly cosmic pretensions), celebrating Suffering (rattled impoverished artist Jerry Sims) at the crux of sentient existence, is a visitation of the divine.

— K.J.

Initially shot in 16-millimeter between 1957 and ’59, periodically expanded and updated over the following decades, and completed last year on video in a six-and-a-half-hour final version, Ken Jacobs’s magnum opus of political protest is made of the same basic ingredients as the rest of his oeuvre: beautifully shot scenes of cavorting friends and comrades (including Jerry Sims, a pre-Flaming Creatures Jack Smith, and some recent anti-Bush protesters) and found footage (including most of Nixon’s “Checkers” speech, campaign propaganda for Nelson Rockefeller, a fatuously racist documentary about Africa, and Al Jolson in blackface). Semi-indigestible by design, this nonetheless steadily builds in political and historical resonance. (read more)

— Jonathan Rosenbaum, THE CHICAGO READER

Finished—or perhaps abandoned—after nearly half a century of work, Ken Jacobs’s monumental, monstrous Star Spangled to Death receives its first ever theatrical run this week at Anthology Film Archives. The movie is a six-hour assemblage of found audio-visual material ranging from political campaign films to animated cartoons to children’s phonograph records, interwoven with gloriously eccentric original footage shot mainly on the streets (and in the dumps) of late-’50s New York. (read more)

— Jim Hoberman, VILLAGE VOICE




More:

Star Spangled To Death website

 

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