Bruce Baillie (1931-2020)
Castro Street (1966)
I was so struck by the beauty of Baillie's Castro Street (1966) the first time that I saw it, that I immediately wanted to see it again. The contrasting images (steel/flowers) and sounds, (metal grinding/piano tinkling) are stunning. Shot at the Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, California the film is full of textured images of trains, metal and machinery. Mixed in are shots of sky and vibrant flowers. One particular scene focuses on the trains which are now moving at a faster pace and opens to a field of stunningly beautiful purple violets set in a field into which another train enters the frame from the right. Baillie's use of negative black and white images in combination with vibrant color images and subtly textured images is magnificent. At times things seems to be sliding over each other, and the viewer is treated to a visual collage of color and form. Baillie describes the contrast in images as being shot in "masculine" and "feminine", and goes on to explain this in an interview with Scott MacDonald for A Critical Cinema 2, "I wanted to visualize that ancient, universal fact of opposites that are one, both in conflict and harmony---opposing each other and abiding together." From the beginning to the end I found myself waiting eagerly for the next image to appear. The inclusion of a popular soft rock melody was a lovely surprise and again contrasted with the sounds of the engines, whistles, and machinery.

This is a stunning film Baillie describes in a note as "The Coming of Consciousness."

--Donna Albano, 2001

Bruce Baillie in UbuWeb Sound