No. 12: Heaven and Earth Magic

Saturday, May 12, 2007 - 7:00pm

A masterpiece like none other, Heaven and Earth Magic is a fever-dream collage animation of inexplicable depth and illogical means. Beautiful to behold and bizarrely baroque, Harry Smith toiled for years to create the surreal images and musique concrete soundtrack. Described by critic/historian P. Adams Sitney as "one of the strangest and most fascinating landmarks in the history of cinema," Heaven and Earth Magic stands as the fullest expression of Smith's work as a filmmaker/animator. By turns playful and nightmarish, the obsessively realized imagery is truly unlike anything else in the cinema. Smith describes the film as follows: "The first part depicts the heroine's toothache consequent to the loss of a valuable watermelon, her dentistry and transportation to heaven. Next follows an elaborate exposition of the heavenly land in terms of Israel, Montreal and the second part depicts the return to earth from being eaten by Max Muller on the day Edward the Seventh dedicated the Great Sewer of London." (Harry Smith, 1959-1961, 16mm, 66 min.)