featured project

Richard Wilbur and the Things of This World

Visits with Wilbur are complimented with a wealth of photographs from his family albums and revealing glimpses into his home, studio and libraries in Cummington, MA, as filmmaker and friend, Ralph Hammann, builds an elegiac portrait of an exemplary man who calls us to the best versions of ourselves.

Chapters explore Wilbur’s childhood, service in WW2, miraculous translations of Molière, teaching, famous friendships (including Robert Frost), home life as a father of four, witty books for children, and work with Leonard Bernstein and Lillian Hellman on the legendary musical, Candide. Suffused throughout, is the love story of his remarkable 64 year marriage to Charlee and his years following her death as he contemplated his own mortality while in his 90s.

Alternating between biography and master classes in poetry and the creative processes, the film features Wilbur’s final readings of many of his poems and includes interviews with such luminaries as Brian Bedford, Rhina P. Espaillat, Dana Gioia, Donald Hall, Barry Moser, Austin Pendleton, John Simon, David Sofield, Stephen Sondheim, A.E. Stallings, and biographers, Robert and Mary Bagg.

The film also exists in a shorter, 179 minute, version intended for theatrical distribution. This iteration is titled Richard Wilbur . . . Keeping the Difficult Balance.

Picture Portfolio


About me

Ralph Hammann

Filmmaker, Photographer, Film and Theater Critic

Ralph Hammann has been a film and theater critic (and a member of the American Theatre Critics Association) ever since his first review was published in the college newspaper when he was a film student at NYU in 1972. Since then, he has written for five publications, most notably Albany, NY’s now defunct alternative newsweekly, Metroland (30 years), The Advocate (Williamstown, MA and also defunct) and The Berkshire Eagle.

He taught film and theatre courses at Pittsfield High School when it was an arts magnet school and was an adjunct at Berkshire Community College. For five years, he curated and lectured at a popular film series at the Berkshire Museum which drew the attention of David Lean and resulted in an afternoon visit to the renowned director’s home in London. He counts as his early film mentors David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Carol Reed, Alfred Hitchcock, Terence Fisher, and Peter Cushing. More recently, he has been influenced by Ken Burns, Michael Moore, and Errol Morris.


Film and Theater Critic


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Full Name

Ralph Hammann

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Williamstown, MA USA