Academic journal article Millennium Film Journal

In Memoriam: Peter Hutton (1944 - 2016)

Academic journal article Millennium Film Journal

In Memoriam: Peter Hutton (1944 - 2016)

Article excerpt

"And meet it is, that over these sea-pastures, widerolling watery prairies and Potters' Fields of all four continents, the waves should rise and fall, and ebb and flow unceasingly; for here, millions of mixed shades and shadows, drowned dreams, somnambulisms, reveries; all that we call lives and souls, lie dreaming, dreaming, still; tossing like slumberers in their beds; the ever-rolling waves but made so by their restlessness."

-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The day of Peter's memorial I got a Facebook post from a Bard film grad who teaches in the Al Quds-Bard international program in the Palestinian occupied territories. Casey was screening At Sea for his students in Ramallah. His post: "At Sea during today's class at the Institute for Modern Media. Remembering the care in Peter's approach to images, classrooms and friendships alike. Peace to everyone honoring him in Annandale this evening. We'll always have his light." The thought of Peter's influence, halfway around the world with this special audience felt so right. I can think of no better artist to share his vision of the spectacular wanderings, enterprise of human labor and dynamism of the sea with these young people, some of whom will never see the sea themselves, than Peter, with his sensuality, empathy and clarity of purpose.

As we know, Peter provides the unique link between early cinema, observational cinema and so-called slow cinema. His legacy will be preserved, but he would shrug in his characteristic humble way and say he wanted things simple, within reach and inexpensive. He would sometimes scold me for being restless and say, "Peggy just calm down, the world is not going anywhere." Some of my best times with him were between events or in transit or a chat on the street corner. His temperament in daily life matched the elegant rhythms of his films and he was a metronome of pacing and timing for anyone tuned in. He expressed wonderment over very small pleasures and practicality about things outside his grasp. He truly appreciated the experimental film community. He saw it as a delicate thing to be nurtured, selective and private with its colorful cast of weirdos and visionaries. …

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