Hans Richter

His Influences and Accomplishments on the Upper West Side


Starr's account of the life of Hans Richter reinforces our thoughts about the influence of professors on the lives of their students. Richter's "legacy", his importance on not only the film industry but in the lives of so many was not fully recognized and appreciated until his death. The CCNY Film Institute's doors were closed after Richter stepped down as director. Richter was like Van Doren and Trilling in that he gave "fatherly judgment" and "acted as a steadying rock" to his students. His high and uncompromising standards reminded me of the time Van Doren scrutinized the student who had not done his reading in front of the whole class.

I also saw several similarities between Richter and Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg's poetry and the effects it had on generations throughout the years and even today, was identical to Richter's effectiveness on the people of his times and the youth of today. Richter was referred to as the "spiritual ancestor" for today's younger filmmakers. Both moved their respective audiences with technique and craft. Like Ginsberg, Richter also was called the "elder statesman". What he meant to the film industry was what Ginsberg was to poetry.

I saw an interesting connection between one of Richter's primary arguments and the premise of Norman Klein's essay "The History of Forgetting". Richter contends facts alone do not make history. There must also be interpretation, ideas, and artistic imagination....". Klein also believes there is more to a factual thing or event than that which is obvious--he calls for the need of public and collective memory, which while could contain certain biases and untruths, is all part of the story to be told.

In addition Richter's "love of opposites" which drew him to make feature length films is similar to Dr. Lounsbury's love of juxtapositions. Dr. Lounsbury mentioned at the onset of this course, what made him so inquisitive about NY and it's culture, besides his childhood roots, were how such different things could co-exist so close to one another. How the Bronx and Columbia could be so different yet be located right next to one another.

Lynette Erbe


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