Voices from the Beinecke Library


Production photographs, film stills, and program from Borderline, an experimental silent film produced in 1930 by Pool Films. Posted in conjunction with the Beinecke Library's current exhibition, Paper Trail: Documenting 20th-Century Film in the Archive (February 9 through March 31, 2009). The exhibition features  scripts, notes, photographs, scrapbooks, and printed matter documenting the work of such filmmakers as Boris Kaufman, Mary Ellen Bute, Stan Brakhage, Gerard Malanga, and H. D., Bryher, and Kenneth Macpherson.

Paul Robeson and Kenneth Macpherson


Kenneth Macpherson


From the set of Borderline


Paul and Eslanda Robeson


Kenneth Macpherson and H.D.


Borderline, APool Film with Paul Robeson (Program)

About Borderline

The only full-length feature film produced by Pool Films, Borderline was written and directed by Kenneth Macpherson; actors included Macpherson and his Pool Films collaborators H.D. and Bryher along with other friends. The only professional actor in the film was Paul Robeson. The film explores issues of race, class, sexuality, and gender in what H. D. referred to as “[a] particular borderline town of some indefinite mid-European mountain district.” Of the characters in the film, the poet writes: “they are borderline social cases, not out of life, not in life….” Macpherson attempts in Borderline to explore a visual representation of various conscious and unconscious mental processes and extreme psychological states, reflecting the group’s abiding interest in psychoanalysis and the possibilities it might represent for experimental artistic expression.

These and related materilas can be found in the H.D. Papers (YCAL MSS 24) and the Bryher Papers (Gen Mss 97).


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