Short piece by Rut Hillarp (De vita händerna) based on a poem by Karl Vennberg.
Rut Hillarp has an assured place in Swedish literary postwar modernism thanks both to her collections of poetry and her novels, tinged with erotic imagery and mythological patterns. After some decades of silence as a writer she re-emerged in the 1980s as a poet experimenting with photography and photo montage in combination with her poetry. What is less well known is that her visual and expressive imagination had also resulted in a number of experimental films which she made in collaboration with the Romanian cinematographer and filmmaker Mihail Livada, whose influence on Swedish experimental film has been immeasurable. In 1949 they made Det underbara mötet (‘The Wonderful Rendezvous’), an associative fantasy about a meeting of lovers. Despite the technical limitations of the film, Hillarp managed to create images for the powerful sensuality at the core of her lyrical creations. In 1950, when Svensk Experimentfilmstudio – later known as Arbetsgruppen för Film – was founded, Hillarp made De vita händerna (‘White Hands,’ 1950) which, like its predecessor, was shot on cine film. De vita händerna – in which Livada and some of Hillarp’s literary colleagues took part – is a re-working of Tristan and Isolde in which archaic images appear in sequence. One of the best known Swedish experimental films of the 1950s, De vita händerna won the 1950 Cine-Film of the Year award. After this Hillarp would not reappear in public as a filmmaker until 1970, with her collage film Vart vill du rida hän? (‘Where Do You Wish to Ride?’) which is based on a poem by Karl Vennberg.
In 2011 Birgitta Holm, who was a close friend, published Hillarp’s diaries alongside a monograph, “Rut Hillarp: Poet and Erotic Genius”. The book documents Hillarp’s fascination with film and her complex relationship with the reticent Livada. It also touches on other figures from the largely unexamined history of Swedish experimental film, from Eivor Burbeck till Jean-Clarence Lambert.
Lars Gustaf Andersson (2012)
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