Harry Everett Smith (May 29, 1923 – November 27, 1991) was an American polymath, who was credited variously as an artist, experimental filmmaker, bohemian, mystic, record collector, hoarder, student of anthropology and a Neo-Gnostic bishop.
Smith was an important figure in the Beat Generation scene in New York City, and his activities, such as his use of mind-altering substances and interest in esoteric spirituality, anticipated aspects of the Hippie movement. Besides his films, such as his full length cutout animated film Heaven and Earth Magic (1962), Smith is also remembered for his influential Anthology of American Folk Music, drawn from his extensive collection of out-of-print commercial 78 rpm recordings.
Critical attention has been most often paid to Smith’s experimental work with film. He produced extravagant abstract animations. The effects were often painted or manipulated by hand directly on the celluloid. Themes of mysticism, surrealism and dada were common elements in his work.
Information, especially about Smith’s early films, is uncertain, due to the work-in-progress nature of experimental filmmaking. He frequently reedited them (hence the different runtimes), incorporating on various occasions reassembled footage of different film to be viewed with varying music tracks. For instance, the handmade films now known as No. 1, 2, 3, and 5 were accompanied by an improvising jazz band on May 12, 1950 when they premiered as part of the Art in Cinema series curated by Smith’s friend Frank Stauffacher at the San Francisco Museum of Art, though Smith had originally intended them to be accompanied by recordings of beat favorite Dizzy Gillespie. Later he showed the films with random records or even the radio as accompaniment. Smith stated that his films were made for contemporary music, and he kept changing their soundtracks. At the urging of his friend Rosemarie “Rosebud” Feliu-Pettet, Smith also re-cut Early Abstractions to sync with Meet the Beatles!.
The present-day numbering system which Smith introduced some time between 1951 and 1964–65 (the year the Film-Makers’ Cooperative started distributing 16 mm copies of his films) includes only films that survived up to that point. Thus this filmography is in no way a comprehensive list of all the films he has ever made, all the more as he is known to have lost, sold, traded or even wantonly destroyed some of his own works. The dating of the film presents another puzzle. Since Smith frequently worked for years on them and kept little to no documentation, the information varies considerably from one source to another. Therefore all available information has been added to the following list, inevitably resulting in a loss of clarity but having the advantage of giving the whole picture. The films are also known by variant designation, i.e. Film No. 1, Film # 1 or simply # 1.
HEAVEN AND EARTH MAGIC
color, black & white, fullscreen, mono, VHS transfer, 100 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case wrapped in plastic!