(11 minutes, 16mm, 1983)

Click on Image to Expand


Landfall was shot in Prince Edward Island, near the family home on the Northumberland Strait. The original footage, shot in 1974, was a kind of interactive, camera “dance” with the environment. Poetry became important when the footage was later superimposed onto its own mirror-image, to help direct the viewer away from the luring yet limited world of image-identification. “I Thought There Were Limits,” by Quebec poet D.G. Jones, w as used to encourage the viewer to reject Newtonian notions of space and time, and to conceptualize the film’s interplay between absence, desire, and presence. Eventually, the limitation of text as spoken signifier is exposed through dynamic visual techniques reminiscent of concrete poetry. (RH)

“Although completed in 1983, Landfall was actually shot in 1974 at the Hancox family home in Prince Edward Island. Influenced by Michael Snow’s La Region Centrale Hancox became a “Human tripod” that anchored the camera. This original footage was a “kind of interactive, camera dance” with the environment. Poetry was superimposed on the sweeping arcs of landscape drawing the viewer away from the temptation to identify and order the images. It is, Hancox suggests a structure that is similar to Waterworx but that the second half of the film is both visually and textually reflected repeat of the first.” (“Recent Canadian Experimental Films” by Cathy Jonasson, Canada House Catalogue, 1991)

Landfall is a seminal film in the development of Canadian experimental film of the past decade. It is an elegant work that illustrates the debt the Canadian avant-garde still owes to structural film, but it also points the way to a rearticulation of a structural film aesthetic in a more humanist context. The film is concerned not merely with exploring questions of art and perception, but with all boundaries of human endeavour. Landfall is a reflexive exploration of how one’s understanding of the physical world is insufficient if the idea of human perceptibility is divorced from our emotions.” (Mario Falsetto, Experimental Film Congress Catalogue)

Landfall offers a contrasting visual metaphor for the structure of our conscious and unconscious realities. While the camera swings and sweeps around an ocean cove in P.E.I., the interjection of frozen frames reveals a shadow of Hancox holding a Bolex camera above his head. A voice-over of D.G. Jones’ poem, I Thought There Were Limits, accompanies this dizzy profusion of images, describing a falling away from the “Newtonian laws of emotion.” In the second half of the film, the images are not only repeated, but their mirror reflection superimposed. The words, which now appear as text upon the screen, know no gravity as well. A sonorous repetition of synthesized notes sound warning of their arrival. They float diagonally across the screen. They move up and down, up-0side down, swinging around. The visual effect of this sequence becomes a physical impression of disembodiment. In contrast to Waterworx, we are not detached from the images, but almost part of them. But despite this sensation that we are experiencing time and space from a different vantage point of perception, the poem tell us that these are “dreams, hallucinations, which reveal the sound and fury of machines working on nothing” … our meeting of the unconscious process brings us to the paradoxical impasse of nothingness, of a void. Conclude, the poem suggests, that “desire is but an ache, an absence… It creates a dream of limits and it grows in gravity as that takes shape.” ‘Sense’ in Hancox’s poetical exploration, becomes non-sense. We can only know through repetition, in an enigmatic flash, the presence of the unconscious through absence.” Dot Tuer, Vanguard

“…the greatest film, to me, was Landfall, wherein I felt you achieved a hard-won acceptance of the Universe, like we say-i.e. there was no sentimentality from grounds chosen to begin the film thru to your full exposition (clear clean visual architecture-in-evolution) of it-Bravo!” (Stan Brakhage)

“..typography and graphics become significant considerations, not to mention the timing and method of making the words appear and disappear. Comparable elements...when the poem is spoken on the soundtrack... Landfall offers an excellent reading of the poem, which is, in turn, well integrated with the film’s visuals.” William Wees, Words and Moving Images

Available from:

Canadian Filmmakers' Distribution Centre
37 Hanna Ave. #220
Toronto, Ontario Canada M6K 1W8
telephone: 416-588-0725, e-mail:

Canyon Cinema
145 Ninth Street, Suite 260, San Francisco, CA 94103
phone/fax: 415-626-2255 email:

(printable version of description)

Reviews, Articles, Text & Notes:

Rick Hancox’s Landfall: A Canadian Poetry Film by Melanie Nash (Experimental Film 532, Submitted to Chris Gallagher April 5, 1994)

Landfall onscreen text from “I Thought There Were Limits” a poem by D.G. Jones, published in Phrases from Orpheus (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 26

next film