Castro Street

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

I found Castro Street to be an aesthetically beautiful film and the technicalities involved in making the film make it so. Baillie's use of superimposition, negative images,distortion,mixed use of color with black and white, and the use of light make each frame or shot an advertisement for industry. Through the use of these special effects, Baillie demonstrates industry as a beautiful development. Most other times, industry is depicted in a very negative and destructive manner. Castro Street did not seem to be angry toward industry,but seemed to capture the beauty of it. Throughout the film there are shots of smoke stacks, moving trains, still trains, pipes, industrial plants, etc. However, each item of industry was shown flourishing. The one image that remains in my mind is the footage of a smoke stack in red. If Baillie was trying to show how negative industry is, I feel that he would use his framing differently or use a different color (perhaps he would have kept that image in black and white in order to show the dirt or filth involved). However, the red coloring emphasizes the smoke extending from the stack. Each ripple is clearly defined as though the smoke resembled clouds. I found the emphasis on motion to stand for the progression of industry. Overall, I felt that Castro Street (whether it was intentionally done or not) visually captures the beauty of industry through Baillie's use of effects.
--Eva Jones, 2000

The movie "Castro Street" by Baillie was filled with images that were all connected in some way. The difficult and confusing part of this movie was trying to figure out how the images were related. It was often hard to make out what a certain image was because it was either out of focus or it was only on the screen for a few seconds. Some of the images that were shown were trains, smoke, pipes, and buildings. The entire movie contained images of objects that were moving. If the objects were not moving, there would be an image over the object that made it look like it was moving. The use of the multiple images being superimposed made the film more complex. It allowed more connections to be made between the objects and images. The general topic of the film seemed to be motion. Baillie seemed to capture the feeling and essence of motion. Motion can be seen in many different forms, as Baillie has shown us. Baillie's continuous use of moving images brought me into somewhat of a daze. The film almost made me feel as if I was moving. Baillie's film also had a lot of industrial images. By using these industrial images, Baillie portrayed the idea that humans are continuously moving forward in technology and evolving. This idea was presented in a positive light but I noticed a few negative reminders within the film. Although the film was not meant to portray these negative aspects of evolution and industrialism, there were definitely present. The image of the flowers and the train in the same shot showed me that nature is often abused and destroyed. This movie portrayed the positive aspects of industrialism and motion by superimposing many different images together. It was interesting and the images were captivating.
--Erica Ferry, 2000

This movie is considered abstract and has an industrial outlook. I liked how the trains were moving in opposite directions but converging in the center of the screen. I thought this movie portrayed that nature was being destroyed by the industrial society.
--Helene Dacey, 2000

The movie "Castro Street" by Baillie was in interesting film dealing with much focus of an area. The way it seemed to me was that the train was on a track called Castro Street ( the track being the street) since the film not only showed suburban areas, but also industrial and even sometimes, a plain area. It was rather impressive to see the visual effects of the red over some of the shots of the factory and smoke stack.
--John Bartruff, 2000

I also thought Castro Street was pretty good. At first, I was looking for too much, which caused me to miss a lot. I'm glad we got to watch it a second time because I was able to see more because I wasn't trying to force the images to appear how I felt they should appear. The second time around I watched the film for what it was.
--Jason Jordan, 2001

Bruce Baillie Work