Star Spangled to Death is an epic film costing hundreds of dollars! An antic collage combining found-films with my own more-or-less staged filming (I once said directing Jack and Jerry was like directing the wind). It is a social critique picturing a stolen and dangerously sold out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Race and religion and monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war become props for clowning. In whimsy we trusted. 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 is a cine-visitation of the divine (the movie has raggedly cosmic pretensions). His character, The Spirit Not Of Life But Of Living, celebrates Suffering, personified by poor, rattled, fierce Jerry Sims, as an inextricable essence of living. Is this video the real thing? In the winter of 1959 editing facilities were two nails in a wall holding two film reels and an enlarging glass and in 2003 a G4 with Final Cut Pro. Better to figure the entirety as another entry in my found-film oeuvre. I did drop some found-films from the original collage, including all biographic elements (like my maybe-father's third-wedding home movies), replacing with items more on track with central concerns of the work. Stuff gathered over the years with SSTD in mind, only some that could be squeezed into its ultimate realization. The Follies entered sometime in the Sixties, the Micheaux's Ten Minutes To Live entered my life with a bang in 1968 (being up there with the greatest; the DVD of SSTD should by rights be a double-feature with Ten Minutes To Live seeing as the titles go so well together) but only infiltrated SSTD during this latest editing. Ronald Reagan and the twerp presiding now, how ignore them? Perhaps with precisely the same pitch of outrage as my younger self I would not have made any concessions to audience capacity, only added things. There's friends, I know, that will be glum over what they will perceive as signs of an orderly mind. My head, inside, isn't all that different from what it was, I didn't become someone else, but I did get the work together and, in a profound way, that's the problem. It was supposed to lie in a jumbled heap, errant energies going nowhere, the talented viewer inferring form. A Frankenstein that fizzled but twitching and still dangerous to approach. Thoroughly star spangled but still kicking. - Ken Jacobs

Filmmaker
Ken Jacobs
Premiere
-
Country
USA
Year
2003
Medium
DV cam NTSC
Length
200’
Language
English
Producer
Ken Jacobs
Cast
Jack Smith, Ken Jacobs