“I start out on a quest. Thus, again I am speaking of a man in the past, a hero-maker, a storyteller, an image-maker, with whom I was vitally concerned—gradually; I didn’t know any initial point I was concerned with in general, but I was concerned with heroes. Just like a warrior, this poet would start when it was time to start, not knowing really particularly where. And then where he found himself—places that began to tell him where he was bound—he then, of course, began to know about where he was after all.” – B.B.

This program presents two films—Quixote and To Parsifal—that explore the imagistic heroic with which Baillie identified during his quest period with many idols.  

Bruce Baillie, USA, 1965, 16mm, 45m
Originally intended for two simultaneous screens and encapsulating the filmmaker’s first period of work, Quixote is a kind of summary and conclusion of a number of themes, especially that of the hero… depicting Western orientation as essentially one of conquest. The film is conceived in a number of different styles and on a number of simultaneous levels. Taken during a trip across the country from September 1964 through March 1965, and edited through the subsequent summer and fall… the exposed rolls of film were mailed en route to Baillie’s parents’ home, where they remained undeveloped for some time due to lack of funds. It is the last group of films in which the filmmaker was not only learning technique, but discovering himself… often by way of these heroic forms (Mass, To Parsifal, Quixote). Quixote is founded on the original literary figure created by Cervantes… Quixote as the knight errant (self-portraiture), literally embarking on a Quixotic adventure as a 20th-century American poet.

“The Vietnam War was an essential expression of our American (Occidental, Christian) way of comprehending the world, ourselves, history; that is a reason for its thematic appearance in Quixote. The presentiment at the end of the film is of the end we have created for ourselves.” – B.B.

To Parsifal
Bruce Baillie, USA, 1963, 16mm, 16m
“Still one of my best. Tribute to the hero, Parsifal… the European legend as basic structure, as well as the hero… ‘He who becomes slowly wise.’ (Wagner, Parsifal)  Promised land, I suppose… ‘Parsifal, Bleibe! (Stay!)’  (Kundry)… the last temptation… time, flesh, etc.… Off the coast, at sea, the mountains and the… slow freight trains through the passes; the Wagnerian spirit, ancient Christian legend. Compassion for nature, pursuit (of Eternal Life) through the heroic form.”  – B.B.