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De vita händerna
Rut Hillarp

‘I came to film in my capacity of poet, wanting to see whether I could express myself in pictures rather that in words-create a film poem. Not a traditional piece of lyric but something that suggests and hints and transmits its content even though it may not be comprehensible in a logic sense’. This is how Rut Hillarp described her film interpretation of the legend of Tristan and Isolde. She borrowed this classical theme from her collection of poetry The False Farewell. The White Hands is an attempted surrealistic visualization of a poem, using symbolic image sequenses.

English title The White Hands
Keywords Experimental
Aspect ratio 1.33:1 (4:3)
Prod. format Generic film
Duration 00:13:00
Language No dialogue
Color BW
Year 1950
In text Att få en åskådare
Latest screening Mar 25, 2023
Apr 1, 2022
Apr 1, 2022
Mar 9, 2022
Dec 21, 2019
Jun 30, 2018
Feb 11, 2011
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About the artist

Rut Hillarp

Born in 1914 in Hässleholm, Sweden. Lived and worked in Stockholm.

Rut Hillarp was a poet and photographer, and worked as a college teacher for many years. She has a given place in Swedish literary post-war modernism where she appeared with both poetry collections and novels, characterized by an erotic picture world and mythological patterns. After a few decades of silence as an author she returned in the 1980s as a poet, now experimenting with photographs and photomontage in connection with poetry. Less well-known is that her visual and expressive imagination was also expressed in some experimental films that came to be in collaboration with the Romanian photographer and filmmaker Mihail Livada, whose importance for Swedish experimental films is difficult to overestimate. Together they made Det underbara mötet (1949), an associative fantasy of a love meeting. Despite the technical limitations, Hillarp succeeded in imaging the strong sensualism that is at the heart of her lyrical creation. When the Svensk experimentfilmstudio – later called Arbetsgruppen för film – was formed in 1950, Hillarp continued with De vita händerna (1950), which, like its predecessor, was recorded on narrow film. De vita händerna – in addition to Livada also featured some of Hillarp’s poetry – is a recital of Tristan and Isolde where archaic picture elements follow each other. The film won prize as the Narrow Film of the Year 1950 and is one of the more famous works from the 1950s of the Swedish experimental film. Hillarp then did not appear publicly as a filmmaker until 1970, then with the collage film Where do you want to ride? based on a poem by Karl Vennberg.

Birgitta Holm – who was a close friend of Rut Hillarp – published her diaries and a monograph in 2011, “Rut Hillarp: Poet and erotic genius”. These document her fascination for film, as well as her complicated relationship with the elusive Michail Livada. There are also other characters from the Swedish experimental film’s unexplored history making appearences, from Eivor Burbeck to Jean-Clarence Lambert.