Hilary Harris 1929-1999
Highway (1958)
Hilary Harris’ nervy tour of Robert Moses’ New York hearkens back to the classic city symphonies of the 1920s but cut to fit the “go go go” energy of the new era. “The most exciting thing in film is movement,” Harris once wrote, and in HIGHWAY he shows why, shooting from a moving car for the road itself of its ramps, signs and overall pretzel logic. The film can be enjoyed purely as a riot of graphic forms, but at a deeper level Harris is revising the traditional panorama to capture the automotive experience of urban space. He peppers the expressway view with all manner of camera effects, but it’s finally his simple fascination with the changing shape of the road at speed that makes the screen come alive. Bronze medalist at the Brussels International Experimental Film Festival in 1958, HIGHWAY today appears a snappy detour between "On the Road" (published the year before) and the early films of the French New Wave (just around the bend). - Max Goldberg