Bruce Baillie (1931— )

On Sundays (1961), 26 minutes

David Lynn's Sculpture (1961), 3 minutes

Mr. Hayashi (1961), 3 minutes

The Gymnasts (1961), 3 minutes

Friend Fleeing (1962), 3 minutes

Everyman (1962), 6 minutes

The News No. 3 (1962), 3 minutes

Have You Thought of Talking to the Director

(1962), 15 minutes

Here I Am (1962), 10 minutes

A Hurrah for Soldiers (1963), 4 minutes

To Parsifal (1963), 16 minutes

Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964), 24 minutes

The Brookfield Recreation Center (1964), 6 minutes

Quixote (1965), 45 minutes

Yellow Horse (1965), 8 minutes

Tung (1966), 5 minutes

All My Life (1966), 3 minutes

Still Life (1966), 2 minutes

Termination (1966), 6 minutes

Port Chicago Vigil (1966), 9 minutes

Castro Street (1966), 10 minutes

Show Leader (1966), 1 minute

Valentin de las Sierras (1968), 10 minutes

Quick Billy (1970), 56 minutes

Roslyn Romance (Is It Really True?) (1977), 17 minutes

The Cardinal's Visit (On-going), 120 minutes

Dr. Bish Remedies (1987), 60 minutes

The P-38 Pilot (1990), 15 minutes

Interview About Quick Billy

Scott MacDonald: The opening shot of Part One is very mysterious. The spectator never actually sees anything, just a shade of pink that gets a little more dense, then less, over a period of about two and a half minutes. And I'm not sure what I'm hearing: sometimes it sounds like traffic, sometimes like the ocean.

Bruce Baillie: It's the ocean. Later, there are the sounds of passing timber trucks.

That opening is supposed to be the highest moment of illumination in the whole work. I was following the Tibetan description of the time between life and death, and that's either the illumined memory of perfection or the illumined moment of discovery. It can go either way. I never played the film backward, but it was designed so it could run backward or forward.

Scott MacDonald: You mean the whole film, all four parts?

Bruce Baillie: Let's see, the last reel was in narrative form so that would always run forward. Then would come the end of Part Three, from the end to the beginning; then the end of Part Two would come, then the end of Part One. The end of the whole film would be the beginning shot with that pure light.

Scott MacDonald: So that version would move from the mundanery of conventional narrative toward this moment of supreme illumination, like a journey up the chakras?

Bruce Baillie: I don't remember the whole story. I was describing my own death experience through the catalyst of hepatitis. I had studied The Tibetan Book of the Dead. There the deceased is on a journey, "the time of uncertainty." The specters come to us as our own personal cinema: we are obliged to confront the results of our own deeds. It becomes more and more frightening. As I pursued the experience, I found this delightful moment in the beginning which was so lovely; it generated into a terrifying but lovely cosmic storm.

...In all the segments of Quick Billy I had a ruling form or deity. One was an old, wise horse named Amber that lived with us. I shot her mane against the black stormy sky. Then there'd be another form, another creature or person. Their opposite would appear in the second reel, all in the same order exactly, with the opposite meaning. So those first two reels were mates; they ran almost the same length. There's a continuing gradual degeneration, and the beasts of light become the terrifying beasts of darkness that are the guiding entities of the second reel.

The assignment the first time, given to me by the conditions of making the film, was not to make a beautiful film, but rather to make a document about this inner passage, a little-described, but very common–in fact universal–phase of being human: the evolution of consciousness through which every man and woman eventually must go. There's hardly any information about it in our modern age, but it's common in some of the old civilizations, perhaps in all of them: information as to how to make that passage. In contemporary culture we have the ball-game or warfare scores on TV, the homogenized newscasters all reading the same news.

I think my concept for Quick Billy is almost identical to Stan Brakhage's Scenes from Under Childhood [1967-1970], which explores the "scenes" prior to childhood–the scenes so near that time between being and being. Brakhage was sending me those films at the time I was going through all this, and they were essentially identical to what I was making, I thought.

Edited interview from A Critical Cinema 2,

by Scott MacDonald (1992).

Baillie's Quick Billy is the focus of Kathleen Michael Connor's Ph.D. dissertation (1994) Light and Color in Two Mythic Worlds: W.B. Yeats' "The Wanderings of Oisin" and Bruce Baillie's "Quick Billy" (Ohio University).

On page 183 she footnotes an observation (her's) that speaks to the special power of Baillie's film-making:

By identifying with the death of this animal, and all creatures, Baillie shows his compassion for the death of each particular viewer as well. This has the effect of placing the viewer in an unusual relationship of complete trust with the film-maker. It is a rare occasion in film. Baillie once related a dream in which he, as a doctor, had to suffer the illnesses and then die the deaths of all people. Any human being willing to take on responsibilities for the deaths of others cannot harm them, and this is what the viewer instinctively knows.