Film Poetry



If I had to sum up my entire cinematic and teaching philosophy in a single image, in one shot, that probably would be taken from the visual experiments I conducted in 1984 for Voices and Visions, the first and only national Public Broadcasting System Television Series about the greatest American poets.

{click play to view video}

I consider this as my Signature Shot.

I took a frame of a man on a horse from a series of stills by Eadweard Muybridge and subjected it to Eisenstein’s mathematical montage by decreasing the length of the shot until it reached 1/48th of a second and then followed by the consecutive stills they produced an illusion of movement, that is the Motion Picture.

I had basically re-created the very first moving image in history by Muybridge. Then by designating a few key-frames, Muybridge’s moving picture of a man on a horse was turned into a Chinese Ideogram of man on the horse by a computer interpolating the frames in-between the key frames, in one of the first experiments in computer animation.

The philosophical and educational meaning of the shot is to show how the image of a concrete object (Species) can be turned into an Abstract Sign (Genus) and vice versa– as that is at the heart of the interplay between both languages: Visual and Verbal, Words and Images.

This experiment in visualizing poetry was for the “Voices and Visions” Public Broadcasting System television series’ pilot project on the life and works of the most controversial American poet of all times, Ezra Pound, who had introduced the use of Chinese Ideograms in his poetry.

My visual interpretation of a haiku by Ezra Pound can be viewed on the “Voices and Visions” page on this site.


“Poetry is useless,” said the German philosopher Heidegger-- and might add, therefore poetry is closest to the universe; as due to its infinity,


the universe is totally non-utilitarian; that is, the universe lacks a finite purpose, and poetry reflects that.

I can claim the infinity of the universe without being burned at the stake like the great philosopher Giordano Bruno, who said this the first time and died for it.



The two main aspects of the universe are being and the flip side of the coin, information-about-being. Verbal languages are all based on the information aspect of the universe. According to De Saussure’s general theory of lingustics, verbal languages use arbitrary signs to signify objects and ideas.


Using these arbitrary signs, verbal languages are able to signify and substitute the totality of first degree reality (existence) with a second degree reality of signs (copies) based on the information aspect of the universe. 

Another way to generate ideas and copies of first degree reality is with images and sounds in an audiovisual language. And there is, of course, and interplay between verbal and audiovisual languages.

Poetry is the ornament of language, based on the information aspect of existence.

Creating poetry, in the most general sense, is pushing the innermost specific properties of any medium to their ultimate limits for the purpose of self-expression. It could be anything from origami, to cuisine, to pottery, to athletics, etc.

Cinematic Poetry is the use of the innermost characteristics of the audio-visual language as self expression.

Poetry on film has of course been an undercurrent throughout the history of the medium. There are great examples from Bunuel and Dali, through Eisenstein and Maya Deren, to Sergei Parajanov, and so on. They deserve a book (that I’m writing), but in the meantime, please accept the following samples of my humble efforts.

- Prof. Karl Bardosh