Birgit Hein and Wilhelm Hein

20 minutes, black and white, sound, 16mm

 Germany 1968


One of the most important structural films of the period, Rohfilm demonstrates a radical anti-representational approach, destroying the figurative image and bringing attention back to the ‘raw’ photographic material, particularly its physical form. Resisting a stable reference point, the film is a multi-layered onslaught of blurred impressions, shifting surfaces and grating sounds that activates a form of sensuous viewing. In the making of the film, the Heins employed just about every technique of defamiliarization, including direct intervention on the surface of the film strip, rephotography, remediation, and different kinds of mechanical interruption and destruction. It is a striking example of a truly handmade approach. (Kim Knowles)

“Particles of dirt, hair, ashes, tobacco, fragments of cinematic images, sprocket holes and perforated tape are glued onto clear film. This is then projected and re-photographed from the screen, since the conglomeration of strips and glue technically only allow one projection. During this process the original gets stuck now and then in the projector gate, so the same image appears again and again, or film frames melt under the excessive heat of the projector, which is running at a very slow speed. The ensuing film is put through all kinds of reproduction processes, projected as video, appears on the editing board and on a movie-scope, and is filmed again in order to capture the specific changes engendered by the processes of reproduction. Other pieces from various positive and negative strips and from 8mm and 16mm strips with their different frame sizes are also glued together and re-filmed. 8mm film is run without a shutter through the viewing machine and rephotographed so that frame borders and perforations, in other words the film strip as material, become visible” (Hein 1971: 149).

“… the Heins’ Grün, Rohfilm, and Reproductions include actual film collage and hand attacks upon the celluloid as well as wandering frame-lines and sprocket holes. Although the Heins’ technique in these films is less structural, their affirmation (particularly in Rohfilm) of the film’s substance and its physical presence in the projector is overwhelming, more powerful than any American film I have seen” (Curtis 1971: 185).


Birgit Hein, born 1942 in Berlin, lives and works in Berlin.

Wilhelm Hein, born 1940 in Duisburg, lives and works in Berlin.



David Curtis, Experimental Cinema: A Fifty Year Evolution (London: Studio Vista, 1971).

Birgit Hein, Film im Underground (Frankfurt: Verlag Ullstein, 1971). English translation from: Christine Noll Brinckmann, “Collective Moments and Solitary Thrusts: German Experimental Film 1920–1990,” Millennium Film Journal 30/31, Fall 1997, pp. 30–31.

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