#129) H2O (1929)

H2O. 1929. Ralph Steiner.png-002

#129) H2O (1929)

OR “13 Lakes’ Great-Grandparent”

Directed by Ralph Steiner

Class of 2005

The Plot: Water. It’s 12 minutes of water in various forms (though mostly up-close and abstract). No music, no commentary, just water.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film a “cinematic tone poem” with “striking visual effects”.

But Does It Really?: I dunno. We got plenty of Ralph Steiner on this list, and I can’t find any direct influence that this film has had, but it’s nice to know that avant-garde filmmaking was happening as early as the late ‘20s. If nothing else, this film must be fun to watch while high.

Wow, That’s Dated: Nothing, for the natural ebb and flow of water is timeless, much like the endless ebb and flow of life.

Other notes

  • Great, now I really have to pee.


  • Ralph Steiner would go on to be the cinematographer on future NFR entries “The Plow That Broke the Plains” and “The River”, as well as a co-director on “The City”.
  • Many avant-garde filmmakers cite Ralph Steiner as an influence, so he’s got that going for him.
  • “H2O” would be remade in 1998 starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

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