Herbert’s Hippopotamus is a search for the turbulent life in California of philosopher, writer, and activist Herbert Marcuse, visionary force for the youth and student movements during the 1960s and 1970s.
Blending personal narration, archival news footage, staged imagery, and interviews, the documentary examines the media frenzy generated by Marcuse’s presence in Southern California through incidents such as Marcuse’s support of student demands, Governor Ronald Reagan’s call for his retirement, the American Legion’s attempt to expel him from the University of California, and the numerous death threats made against Marcuse.
Herbert’s Hippopotamus explores the historical background for the encounter between Critical Philosophy and the Third World, Feminist and Anti-War Movements, as well as the political turmoil in reaction to these coalitions.
Paul Alexander Juutilainen is an award-winning filmmaker. Born in Finland and raised in Denmark, Juutilainen completed studies in Modern Culture and the Visual Arts first in Denmark and later in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship. He received his B.A. from the University of Copenhagen and his M.F.A from UC, San Diego. His first feature documentary, Herbert’s Hippopotamus about the life in Southern California of philosopher and writer Herbert Marcuse, was broadcast and screened at festivals internationally, winning an Emmy, Telly Award, a CINDY Gold, the Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Best Prize at the Vermont International Film Festival, and 12 other awards. For Herbert’s Hippopotamus, Juutilainen was selected for the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 1998 Cannes International Film Festival.