Born in Lithuania, Adolfas Mekas and his brother Jonas arrived in the United States in 1949. Together they studied with Hans Richter and, in 1954, founded Film Culture, the magazine of independent cinema. In 1970, Jonas Mekas co-founded Anthology Film Archives in New York city.

HALLELUJAH THE HILLS, Adolfas Mekas's debut feature film, was selected for the first New York Film Festival in 1963, was the hit of the 'Out-of-Competition' section at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the Silver Sail at Locarno. Referencing Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith and Maya Deren, Mekas' film is a work that bears witness to his knowledge and love of cinema, as well as the immense freedom to be found in the films of the New American Cinema.

In 1971 Adolfas Mekas joined the, then, newly formed film department of Bard College, which would come to be known as the "Peoples' Film Department" under his chairmanship. Mekas continued to teach at Bard until his retirement in 2004. Adolfas Mekas died in June of 2011, at the age of 85.

Peter H. Beard and Marty Greenbaum in  HALLELUJAH THE HILLS  (1963)

Peter H. Beard and Marty Greenbaum in HALLELUJAH THE HILLS (1963)

“Next to the two big shots of the New York School, Clarke and Cassavetes, he seemed a poor relative, especially since people got him confused with his brother. HALLELUJAH proved clearly that Adolfas is someone to be reckoned with. He is a master in the field of pure invention, that is to say, in working dangerously – ‘without a net.’ His film, made according to the good old principle – one idea for each shot – has the lovely scent of fresh ingenuity and crafty sweetness. Physical efforts and intellectual gags are boldly put together. The slightest thing moves you and makes you laugh – a badly framed bush, a banana stuck in a pocket, a majorette in the snow. He shows life as defined by Ramuz: ‘As with a dance, such pleasure to begin, a piston, a clarinet, such sorrow to be done, the head spins and night has come.’”

– Jean Luc-Godard, Cahiers du Cinéma

Adolfas Mekas on the set of  HALLELUJAH THE HILLS  (1963)

Adolfas Mekas on the set of HALLELUJAH THE HILLS (1963)

"A highpoint from the 'innocent' years of American underground cinema, and something of an enduring delight for real film buffs. Mekas' comedy starts from an enthusiastic parody of French 'new wave' concepts like using two actresses to play one character, and manages to go on to incorporate references (part satire, part homage) to what seems like every other branch of cinema extant. It ranges from samurai movies to Chaplinesque slapstick, and it hits the intended tone between love and scepticism far more often than you'd have thought possible. The main thing is that it's recklessly enthusiastic about itself and about cinema in general -- and the enthusiasm is infectious."

Time Out Film Guide

"HALLELUJAH THE HILLS is a gloriously funny and far-out farce about two great big overgrown boy scouts who pratfall in love with the same girl.  The weirdest, wooziest, wackiest screen comedy is a slapstick poem, an intellectual hellzapoppin, a gloriously fresh experiment and experience in the cinema of the absurd, the first cubistic comedy of the new world cinema."

Time Magazine, 1963

"Even avowed enemies of the New American Cinema, so called, were impressed by the film's lack of pretentions and its unexpected lyricism and Zen serenity in the midst of nervous parody."

– Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice, 1963

This new to DVD publication contains the bonus features: David Avallone's 2006 interview with Mekas, HALLELUJAH THE VILLA; Richard Roud's 1963 interview with Mekas, Joseph Losey and Amos Vogel for Camera Three, in honor of the inaugural New York Film Festival; and a 20-page bi-lingual booklet with a new essay by Frédérique Devaux, about the film and Mekas's improvisatory technique.



Format: DVD-PAL / Region 0
(No Regional Code)


(US, 1963)

Director: Adolfas Mekas
Screenplay: Adolfas Mekas
Editor: Adolfas Mekas & Louis Brigante
Music: Meyer Kupferman
Photography: Ed Emshwiller
Production Cuisiniere: Bessie Milec
Assistant: Jonas Mekas
Producer: David C. Stone
Cast: Peter H. Beard, Sheila Finn, Marty Greenbaum, Peggy Steffans, Jerome Raphael, Blanche Dee, Emsh, Jerome Hill & Taylor Mead 

• 82 minutes
• 35mm
• B&W
• Sound


Bonus Material

(US, 1963) 

With: Joseph Losey, Adolfas Mekas, Richard Roud & Amos Vogel 

• 9 minutes
• B&W
• Sound

(US / Italy, 2006)

Director: David Avallone 

• 28 minutes
• Video
• B&W, Color
• Sound


Total Running Time: 01:54:50

Language: English. French, Spanish, German, Italian & Lithuanian subtitles

Booklet Text: Frédérique Devaux (French & English)

Published By: Edition Filmmuseum

Institutional Price: $250 (plus shipping).

To order call: 212.280.8654 or click here for information on ordering by fax, e-mail or post.