Harrowing of Hell

A contemporary take on the 15th century texts of the Wakefield Mystery Cycle, commissioned by iMove Yorkshire in June 2012.

“Film…is the rotting flesh made up of bones and other corporal beasts lurking in the dark, suspended in a murky substance.” (Gibson & Recoder, Cinema/Film, 2008).

Hollis Frampton, in The Invention Without a Future (1979), notes that 20th century innovations in moving image technology were accelerated by the military’s use of film. Bell & Howell’s lucrative contract with the Allies during World War II allowed the company to mass-produce standardised 16mm equipment on a scale never imagined before. This had a huge impact on the market, making lightweight handheld cameras and versatile filmstocks readily available to modern consumers.

The Harrowing of Hell appropriates and re-works visual material sourced from newsreels, documentaries and home movies from World War II through to the current day, re-filmed on celluloid. Re-processed and hand manipulated footage was then edited to produce a frenetic, multi-layered montage of what survivors throughout the source material describe as “hell on earth.”

The film formed the last part of the Wakefield Mystery Tour, and was installed at the Art House Wakefield from 17th-19th July 2012.

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