Monday, June 13, 2011

Film Culture: Adolfas Mekas 1925-2011

Excerpt from Hallelujah The Hills byAdolfas Mekas


Adolfas Mekas, Hallelujah the Hills, 1963 (excerpt) from RE:VOIR on Vimeo.


Adolfas Mekas (September 30, 1925 – May 31, 2011) was a Lithuanian-born film director, and brother of Jonas Mekas. He is principally known for his work in the United States.

Prior to World War II, Adolfas and Jonas Mekas had set up a theatre. Later, in a camp for displaced persons, they studied with a teacher of the Stanislavsky System.The brothers emigrated to the United States in 1949. They studied with Hans Richter before establishing Film Culture magazine in 1955.

Selections from Film Culutre  magazine (1955-1996) here

Excerpt from Film Culture: Article by Richard Leacock on "For an Uncontrolled Cinema": "Ever since the invention of the 'talking-picture' it has been blithely assumed that films are an extension of the theatre, a marvelous gadget that allows you to change scenes in an instant, yet retains the fundamental aspect of theatre in that you cause a story to be acted out before an audience (the camera) under controlled conditions. Control is of the essence.... As far back as 1906 Leo Tolstoy noted: "... It is necessary that the cinema should represent Russian reality in its most varied manifestations. For this purpose Russian life ought to be reproduced as it is by the cinema; it is not necessary to go running after invented subjects ..." Here is a proposal that has nothing to do with theatre. Tolstoy envisioned the film-maker as an observer and perhaps as a participant capturing the essence of what takes place around him, selecting, arranging but never controlling the event. Here it would be possible for the significance of what is taking place to transcend the conceptions of the film-maker because essentially he is observing that ultimate mystery, the reality. Today, fifty years after Tolstoy's death, we have reached a point in the development of cinema where this proposal is beginning to be realized."


Adolfas Mekas directed a number of films including Hallelujah the Hills (see excerpt above) and Going Home, both of which are considered landmarks of the New American Cinema movement. In 1971 he joined the newly formed film department at Bard College. He continued to teach at Bard until retiring in May 2004.

Mekas died on May 31, 2011.

Adolfas Mekas filmography:
  • Hallelujah the Hills (1963)
  • The Brig (1964) (with Jonas Mekas)
  • Skyscraper (1965)
  • The Double-Barreled Detective Story (1965)
  • Windflowers (1968)
  • Campeneras and Campaneros (1970)
  • Going Home (1971)

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