Tuesday 12 November 2013

A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist (1978)

'A Walk Through H' is one of my favourite pieces of art, and worth just as much as a visit to a gallery.  It's pictures and narration, so my comments will follow suit.

The story is told in 92 maps, with occasional birds.
It's almost animation, but the pictures don't move, only the camera does.
A red path has guided the ornithologist through these many maps,
but may not be reliable.
The maps begin to fade, leaving only the image of a signpost,
or the skeleton of a windmill.
The maps hail from a variety of sources, and seem to have been selected by
Tulse Luper.  In reality, they're drawn and painted by Peter Greenaway,
my favourite director, and a painter at heart.
The maps have an unusual beauty.
An important map, reproduced from a bogus ecological textbook.
This map was stolen from Van Hoyten, the Owl Keeper at Amsterdam Zoo.
Van Hoyten appears (in person) in 'A Zed and Two Noughts' (1985),
which I hope to tell you of some other time.
A map on the plumage of an upside-down partridge. 
"My wife took a drawing I had bought to be framed. It was a drawing I didn't know too well, but well enough to know that, when it came back, it had been exchanged for another. This is that replacement. I said nothing to my wife but, taking the receipt, I went to find the frame-maker. I couldn't find him. I mentioned to my wife that I'd passed the shop where she'd had the drawing framed, she only looked surprised for a moment."
As the ornithologist nears the end of his journey, time is taken for
exultant music, and many birds.
"Tulse Luper suggested my journey through H needed 92 maps. Anticipating my question he suggested the time to decide what H stood for was at the end of the journey and by that time it scarcely mattered."

This film is on Volume 1 of The Early Films of Peter Greenaway, along with 'Windows' (1976) and 'H is for House' (1974), which I have talked about elsewhere.  Volume 2 has my favourite, 'The Falls' (1980), which I would have made you read about and watch, dear reader, were my copy not on semi-permanent loan to an actress in Leeds.

1 comment:

  1. I watched this again recently. It was excellent. I was encouraged by the sight of a bird.