Villages in the Sky (1953)

A brief summary of Hopi life on primarily First and Second Mesa, including basket weaving, gathering water, bread baking, ceremonial dances, and some discussion on women's roles.

Opening credits: Superimposed over an illustration of a woman looking through a motion picture camera viewfinder, her dress flying up behind: “Avalon Presents”; over an image of a big sky full of clouds, mesa below “Villages in the Sky, All Rights Reserved, Narrated by Jack Little;” desert landscape, First Mesa in the background, a tree and shrubs in the foreground; city scape (possibly the corner of Bush and Jones in San Francisco), cars driving on a two-lane boulevard or highway, wide shot of the desert, mesas in background, tree in foreground; three Hopi children in white sit and play on a black donkey atop a cliff edge; close up of their three faces looking at the camera; wide shot from below of First Mesa and rock face below; big blue sky with clouds over a mountain; wide shot of the Painted Desert; various shots dessert landscapes with First, Second and Third Mesas and Hopi pueblos, closer views of buildings and rocks (mainly of Oraibi on Third Mesa?); wide shot of the valley floor, framed by boulders; view of First Mesa (?) and cliffs, people and donkeys walking atop; shots of the three children riding the donkey down a dirt road along the cliff’s rim, one closer shot of same, the little boy twirling his hat; the three playing in a water hole (Moenkopi/Mùqapi wash?); then the children riding back up the dirt road; donkey in foreground on a road in a village, people moving around in the background; a woman rides a donkey, carrying larger metal water cans and buckets, down a narrow dirt footpath; close-up of the donkey’s feet walking; the woman collects water in a freshwater spring as her donkey looks on, the older girl from the trio of children enters the frame and goes over to fill a small can with water as the other woman pours water from a bucket into the water can on the donkey; closer shot of the woman filling another bucket do same; close-up of the donkey, and then another of her drinking from a bucket; wide shots of First Mesa from below; close-up of an older Hopi woman; close-up of a flat plaque basket with spiral design made with orange, grey, black and white, then another with a black eagle design on white background, then another with a different black and white bird on orange background, then an orange basket with just the center finished, closer view of the rabbit brush “spokes” and center weave, a basket with a different black and white spiral design using, then a multicolored diamond or sun design, then a multicolored design on white background, then a smaller multicolored dies with maybe a kachina’s head?; deep basket with multicolored squares on a black background, then shots of another coiled basket design in the works; close-up of the unfinished end with dried yucca strands sticking out; the older woman from below seated on an adobe bench outside a door, weaving, and pulling out yucca strands from a bundle, closer view of her preparing a strand, punching a hole into one end with a tool; closer views of her hands weaving, threading a strand to continue the spiral; close up of a finished basket mostly white with graphic designs; view of the entire basket showing the eagle design; flat plaque basket with a figurative design; flat plaque basket with a black and brown ridged circle with an opening to the white center; another woman seated on a blanket, scraping her hands through a large bowl, surrounded by small pottery vessels; close-up of her hands working some wet clay, then balling it in her hands, then punching a hole into the ball; then she smoothes the interior of now bowl-shape with a flat shell; then her hands roll a long tube of clay and begin to press it in a spiral around the flat base; she then smoothes the inside, and outside after each new layer is added; then she pinches the top to curve inward and smoothes again, and refines; then her hands running a sand stone back and forth over the exterior, then after rubbing water of it, her hands smooth it briskly with a stone; her hands mixing brownish dye in a shallow bowl, then painting a design onto the pot; mesa dwelling walls next to the steep road, with the desert expanse beyond; pile of large stones and broken pottery, then her hands push away rocks to expose four or five posts under hot stones; she then removes them; close up of a newly made walled bowl, then a flatter bowl with figures; a small vase with one spout and two handles, an eagle decoration; a large container with black swirls; a pueblo’s dirt roads an dwellings; a young woman walking with a baby strapped to her back; outdoor clay adobe oven or horno; closer view of the fire inside; a woman sweeps the inside of the horno; closer views of same; square pans of loaves of bread; then a woman placing them into the horno; then a closer view of a woman’s arms pushing a round pan with dough into the fire with a large stick; shot from behind of two women pushing a large flat slab of rock to close the horno’s fire pit and placing a damped cloth to fill any cracks at the top; the two women place rocks in front of the slab as a younger girl looks on; shots of a woman removing the rocks away from the slab door, and then a pan of baked bread; close-up of the bread, then another shot of it and other bread standing up in a metal bucket; empty plaza (on Tewa, First Mesa?); close view of men in traditional costume drumming and chanting; White onlookers in background, then dancers performing the Buffalo Dance (mosayurtikive), and eagle dancers (Kwaatu), then hoop dancers, then a butterfly dancer with a large square headdress with birds posing next to a wall; close-ups of dancing moccasined feet; shots of a group men and women dancing waving flat plaque baskets and shaking rattles, a group of male chanters behind; a view of an empty village road, blue sky beyond, foreground in silhouette; close-up of the woman carrying the baby on her back; two children looking down from a rock at the camera, wind blowing their hair; the three kids from the start riding their donkey; Second Mesa in the distance at sunset; wide shot of First Mesa with big cloudy sky above, at sunset. Closing credits over the open illustration: “The End, An Avalon Daggett Production, Copyright, MCMLIII by Avalon Daggett.”