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Walk Through H, A (1978)


Main image of Walk Through H, A (1978)
16mm, colour, 41 mins
A film byPeter Greenaway
Production CompanyBFI Production Board
ScreenplayPeter Greenaway
CameraJohn Rosenberg
Music byMichael Nyman

Cast: Colin Cantlie (narrator), Jean Williams (receptionist)

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A symbolic journey through mysterious bird-filled country, by an ornithologist at the end of his life.

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In 1978, Peter Greenaway's films became longer and more complex, as he made his first two films funded by the British Film Institute Production Board, A Walk Through H and Vertical Features Remake. Both films reveal Greenaway's continuing obsessions with nature or landscape and the English countryside, as well as with methodology and the classification and organisation of information and ideas.

The title provokes the question of what 'H' stands for. With the introduction of the film's secondary title, The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist, it becomes apparent that it could stand for Heaven or for Hell.

Greenaway presents 92 maps, full of ambiguities. The viewer must interpret the maps, which are laden with codes. The film proposes that each individual would require a series of maps to get them from the moment of death in this life to the next. The maps presented here are made for one particular occupation, Ornithology.

Greenaway introduces his alter-ego, Tulse Luper, who would become a key figure in his earlier work. With references to Dante's Virgil, Greenaway uses Tulse Luper as the provider of the maps and the guide who offers clues to the route the Ornithologist must take as he makes his journey from this world to H, whether that be Heaven or Hell.

Laurel Warbrick-Keay

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'The Early Films of Peter Greenaway Volume 1'.

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Video Clips
Greenaway, Peter (1942-)
Nyman, Michael (1944-)
Early Greenaway
They Started Here