R. Bruce Elder

For the next “filmmaker profile” we head back up across the northern border and stand before vast body of work of R. Bruce Elder, one of Canada’s preeminent artists/savants, the recipient of the Governor’s General Award in Media Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  But of course his worth lies not in institutional recognition, but rather his artistic/scholastic achievements, and Elder’s fortitude in that regard is seemingly inexhaustible.  He created one of the truly monumental works of cinema, his forty-two plus hour Book of All the Dead cycle, in addition to a later ongoing cycle entitled The Book of Praise, as well as having written some of the most difficult, yet rewarding works of critical scholarship I’ve yet encountered, The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition…, A Body of Vision, Harmony and Dissent, which was awarded the Robert Motherwell Book Award (one need only take a glimpse into his past academic pursuits for insight into this phenomenon, having studied everything from philosophy to computer science to dance to music composition).  As is the case with many visionary artists his rise has not been without controversy, his manifesto/essay concerning the then state of Canadian cinema entitled The Cinema We Need, took a deftly worded blowtorch to the critical film establishment of the country, and needless to say ruffled a few feathers.  Nevertheless, there are many who recognize his substantial importance, Stan Brakhage having once remarked “I feel closer to this epic-maker Elder than to any other living film-maker: and yet I feel an aesthetic opposition of such intensity that I'm certain I'll be the rest of my life working Uphill to off-set this grand haunt.



Breath/Light/Birth (1975)
Barbara Is a Vision of Loveliness (1976)
Permutations and Combinations (1976)
She Is Away (1976)
Unremitting Tenderness (1977)
Look! We Have Come Through! (1978)
 The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1979)
Sweet Love Remembered (1980)
Trace (1980)
"1857" (Fool's Gold) (1981)
Illuminated Texts (1982)
Lamentations: A Monument to the Dead World Pt. 1: The Dream of the Last Historian (1985)
Lamentations: A Monument to the Dead World Pt. 2: The Sublime Calculation (1985)
Consolations (Love Is an Art of Time) Pt. 1: The Fugitive Gods (1988)
Consolations (Love is An Art of Time) Pt. 2: The Lighted Clearing (1988)
Consolations (Love is An Art of Time) Pt. 3: The Body and the World (1988)
Exultations: In Light of the Great Giving Pt. 1: Flesh Angels (1990)
Exultations: In Light of the Great Giving Pt. 2:Newton and Me (1990)
Exultations ... Pt.3: Azure Serene: Mountains, Rivers, Sea and Sky (1992)
Exultations: In Light of the Great Giving Pt.4: In Light of the Great Giving (1993)
Exultations ... Pt.5: Burying the Dead: Into the Light (1993)
Exultations: In Light of the Great Giving Pt.6: Et Ressurectus Est (1994)
A Man Whose Life Was Full of Woe Has Been Surprised by Joy (1997)
Crack, Brutal, Grief (2001)
Eros and Wonder (2003)
Infunde Lumen Cordibus (2003)
The Young Prince (2007)





"I wanted to provoke the experience of the fascinated consciousness. What I mean by fascinated consciousness, in part, is a consciousness that has experienced time dissolve into timelessness. I think often of the marvelous title of that great Bach cantata, Gottes Zeit ist die allbeste Zeit (God's time is the best time of all)--and I imagine that what he meant by Gottes Zeit is time that has passed over into timeless. Eliciting the experience of that time is the goal of my work.”