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Directed by Slavko Vorkapich, John Hoffman

United States 1941 10 mins.

Subjectivity informs Slavko Vorkapich and John Hoffman’s Moods of the Sea, a lyrical documentary utilizing Felix Mendelssohn’s “Fingal’s Cave” as musical accompaniment. Opening with a view from a cave onto the ocean, the film orchestrates images of a powerful natural environment: giant waves breaking on the shore, cliffs towering above the surf, a gull flying overhead, otters playing in the waves, clouds gathering, the sun setting on the horizon. True to Vorkapich’s interest in montage, the images from the constantly moving camera are cut precisely to the music, and each sequence reaches a rhythmic crescendo with the melody, emphasizing the subjective nature of the camera’s point of view.—Jan-Christopher Horak

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Preserved from the 35mm nitrate picture and track negatives. Laboratory services by YCM Labs, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Inc. Special thanks to David Shephard/Film Preservation Associates.

Genres: Documentary



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.