Henry Hills

Experimental Filmmaker

Henry Hills


Henry Hills’s Hhhh juxtaposes and overlays multiple senses of the letter H to create a collage structured on a linguistic trope. Lacan famously said the unconscious is structured like language. In Hhhh Hills makes this literal: every shot has an association with H or with the initials for his name. This is the rationale for a Heinrich Heine poem and for a stunning multiplex revamping of a half-dozen Harpo Marx clips interspersed with images of Jean Harlow. Follow along with Hamburger Helper, the H bomb, Hell’s Angels, high heels, Horn & Hardart, and Houdini. It is also the basis for the wild sound collage of Handel, Haydn, “Heartbreak Hotel” and dozens more. H sounded is an aspirate breath; unsounded, as it often is, it’s a voiceless accomplice for another sound.

H Dictionary Entries : slideshow

Howard Hughes & Harlow Since the early days of cinema, Vertov vs. Eisenstein, the motivation for why one shot follows the next has been one of the most important formal features of radical cinema. Movie goers have been mesmerized by subjective aesthetic preference, narrative conflict, Dadaist non-sequitur, structuralist constraint, variations in frame rate. Hills has come with something different: a constraint based on collecting shots associated with a single letter of the alphabet. In this sense, Hills’s compilation of H shots has a structural affinity with Christian Marclay’s The Clock, though Hills’s structure is far looser and his associations more tenuous. What brings the shots together in Hhhh is what Walter Benjamin called “non-sensuous similarity” – the combinations produce an occult or magical synthesis. Hhhh compounds the series with intricately patterned backgrounds and zigzagging formal designs that create 3-D simulations and subliminal visual echoing.

Shelley Hirsch, the brilliant vocal improviser, serves as a decidedly unreliable narrator. While much of the footage in Hhhh is found and repurposed, and often subjected to startling visual effects, the sequence with Hirsch, and a wonderful scene with poet Susan Howe, were filmed especially for Hhhh and provide satisfying H anchors amidst the marvelous mayhem.

Hold on tight! Each shot collides – and colludes – with the next through the serendipitous magic of the H factor in this hilarious, hypnotic, and heterodox feast for heart and head. Hhhh is a tour-de-force of rhythmic oscillation, stunning visual effects, and conceptual conundrums.

—Charles Bernstein

Inspirational Contributions : pdf downloads

Emily Dickinson to Mrs Henry Hills