Sunday, October 07, 2012

German Animation 1, 1910-1930: In Dreams

German Animation 1, 1910-1930: In sogno / In Dreams. Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, with e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: John Sweeney, 7 Oct 2012.

MÜNCHNER BILDERBOGEN NR. 17: PIERRETTES SPIELZEUG [Album di Monaco n. 17: Il giocattolo di Pierrette / Munich Album No.17: Pierrette’s Toy] (Moeve-Film GmbH, DE 1921). D: Louis Seel; 35 mm, 93 m, 4'04" (20-22 fps); print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A human hand draws Pierrette, Pierrette draws Pierrot – her toy boy robot. Not made for any client, but produced as an entertainment solely to be part of a supporting programme, the film uses the rotoscoping technique. Louis Seel traced over live-action shots of his wife Olivette Thomas frame by frame, combining them with fantastical inventions like a male robot. The earliest use of rotoscoping seems to have been in a film made in 1914 by Max Fleischer; he later developed the technique and patented it in 1917. It was prominently used in the series Out of the Inkwell (1918-1928), with Max’s younger brother Dave in his Coney Island clown outfit as the live-film reference for the character Koko the Clown."

"Louis Seel used rotoscoping for several of his Münchner Bilderbogen (Munich Album; literally, “Munich’s illustrated broadsheet”) films. This fortnightly series ran from 1921 until 1923, but unfortunately only a handful of episodes seem to have survived at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Filmarchiv Austria, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, and Filmmuseum München. For more information on Louis Seel, see the entry for Louis Seel Filmbilderbogen: Amors Tagebuch II - Ein zeichnerischer Scherz (Amor’s Diary, 1924) later in this programme." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Charming metamorphoses, meta-animation, optical illusions, constantly on the move towards the impossible, crossing lines, swimming against the tide, characters emerging from the pen and being sucked back into it. *

KHASANA, DAS TEMPELMÄDCHEN [Khasana, la ragazza del tempio / Khasana, the Temple Girl] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, for Dr. M. Albersheim, Frankfurt am Main, DE 1923). D: Toni Raboldt; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 70 m, 3'03" (20 fps), col. (tinted); anim: silhouette; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A commercial for the perfume Khasana. Toni Raboldt and two other silhouette artists – Richard Felgenauer and Lotte Reiniger – were part of the original team of the Institut für Kulturforschung. The Institut’s founding father, Hans Cürlis, produced Raboldt’s first short film, Jorinde und Joringel, based on the fairy-tale, in 1920 (also shown in this programme, and available at the Deutsche Kinemathek). In 1922-23 she collaborated with Lotte Reiniger on Reiniger’s film Aschenputtel (Cinderella)." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: "The tears of love" become the essence of the Khasana perfume in this tale of the oriental Buddha's revenge: his lightning gaze turns the lovers into a flower and a butterfly. Graceful silhouette animation in colour.

DIE GEHEIMNISVOLLE STREICHHOLZDOSE [La misteriosa scatola di fiammiferi / The Mysterious Matchbox] (Deutsche Bioscop GmbH, Berlin, DE 1910). D: Guido Seeber; 35 mm, 87 m, 4'13" (18 fps), col. (tinted); anim: stop-motion; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"One of the earliest German stop-motion films: using matchsticks which seem to re-arrange themselves to form Napoleon, Frederick the Great, exercising soldiers, and a variety of other shapes. In the end they are assembled into a windmill, which is then set on fire. The film was made by Guido Seeber (1879-1940), one of Germany’s most famous cameramen of the silent era and the founder of the Babelsberg studios in Berlin, and was so popular that it was re-released in 1914 and again in 1921."

"Fisherman Ola dreams of going fishing. When his ship is capsized by a storm he sinks to the bottom of the ocean and is  caught by herrings. The King of the Herrings wants his head, but a mermaid saves his life by showing the herrings how popular and honoured canned herrings from Norway are all over the world. The specific client is unknown, but it was almost certainly made for the Norwegian fishing industry, probably for a herring company." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" by Status Quo is playing in my mind. A series of fascinating transformations (scales, a heart, numbers, a bird, calisthenics...) based on the stop-motion animation of matchsticks. *

FISCHER OLAS TIEFSEEABENTEUER [L’avventura in mare aperto del pescatore Ola / Fisherman Ola’s Deep-Sea Adventure] (Excentric-Film Zorn / Tiller GmbH, Berlin, DE 1929). D: ?; 35 mm, 82 m, 3'35" (20-22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"Fisherman Ola dreams of going fishing. When his ship is capsized by a storm he sinks to the bottom of the ocean and is caught by herrings. The King of the Herrings wants his head, but a mermaid saves his life by showing the herrings how popular and honoured canned herrings from Norway are all over the world. The specific client is unknown, but it was almost certainly made for the Norwegian fishing industry, probably for a herring company." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Norwegian sprats (skippers, Brislinge) are being advertised in this nice deep-sea fairy-tale.

DER KAISER DER SAHARA [L’imperatore del Sahara / The Emperor of the Sahara] (Venus Film, Leipzig, DE 1921). D: Hans Fischerkoesen; 35 mm, 106 m, 4'12" (22 fps); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"One of the earliest films made by Hans Fischerkoesen (1896-1973), one of Germany’s best-known animation artists. Krikrinski the millionaire and Potatos the engineer go on an expedition to the Sahara desert, but their desire for conquest meets a sad end when they are confronted by a hungry crocodile."

"“Hans Fischer […] was a delicate child, plagued by asthma, so his parents allowed him and his sister Leni to indulge their taste for fantasy and spectacle by creating puppet shows and home entertainments. The two attended the Leipzig Art Academy together and Leni later worked with Hans on many films. Because of his asthma, Hans could not serve as a soldier during World War I, but he did work in army hospitals near the front lines, where he experienced the grotesque inanity of trench warfare.” (William Moritz, “The Case of Hans Fischerkoesen”, Animation World, vol. 1 no. 7, October 1996; adapted from his article “Resistance and Subversion in Animated Films of the Nazi Era: The Case of Hans Fischerkoesen,” in the premiere issue of Animation Journal, Fall 1992). For additional information on Fischerkoesen, see the entry for Herr Jedermann ist wissendurstig! (Mr. Everyman Is Thirsty for Knowledge!, 1928) in Programme 2." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Marred by racist stereotypes this is an animation with satiric points against war and greed.

[UNIDENTIFIZIERTER DEUTSCHER ZEICHENTRICKFILM] [Unidentified German Animation] (?, DE, c.1920-29) D: ?; 35 mm, 27 m, 1'18" (18 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"Two episodes from a rather morbid unidentified animation film. In the first episode we see a woman resembling Marie Antoinette executed by guillotine. An hour later, an intertitle tells us, she and her severed head have lunch at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon. The second episode shows a gambler at the gates of Heaven who is rather brusquely turned away by St. Peter because gamblers go to Hell." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Jolly and macabre episodes. Ok print.

DIE ZAUBERFLASCHE [La bottiglia magica / The Magic Bottle] (Vaterländischer Filmvertrieb, for Deutsche Reichsbank, DE 1918). D: ?; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 94 m, 4'06" (20 fps); sand animation; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A man pours a liquid from a strange bottle onto a sheet of paper. Pictures of a tank attack on German soldiers appear on the sheet. The man is appalled and decides to buy war bonds."

"Most German war-bond commercials were made by Julius Pinschewer’s company Vaterländischer Filmvertrieb (literally, “Film Distribution Fatherland”), which existed from 1914 to 1918; they are all animation films, or contain animated sequences." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: War propaganda mixing live action with animation. The effect of the ink blot turning into images of tanks and soldies is impressive. A high contrast print.

SCHNIPPS BOXKAMPF IN DER HÖLLE [Il match di Schnipps all’inferno / Schnipps’ Boxing Match in Hell] (Architekt G. Germroth, Frankfurt-am-Main, DE 1920-29?). D: Georg Germroth; 35 mm, 154 m, 6'07" (22 fps); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"The chieftain of the devils challenges the master boxer of the Earth to fight for Hell’s championship. Drawn in an idiosyncratic style that is reminiscent of Italian Futurism." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A grotesque tale about boxing with the devil. *

DAS WIEDERGEFUNDENE PARADIES [Paradiso ritrovato / Paradise Regained] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, DE 1925). D: Walter Ruttmann; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 96 m, 3'49" (22 fps), col.; anim: mixed techniques; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"According to the German censorship card from 1925, this film was 89 metres long when it was passed by the censor. The print preserved at the Bundesarchiv is 96 metres, prompting Jeanpaul Goergen to speculate whether footage from another Pinschewer commercial, Adam und Eva im Paradiese (1924), was later incorporated into Das wiedergefundene Paradies."

"The film does seem a little patchy at times, but that may simply be due to the combination of different animation techniques (hand-drawn, cut-outs, 3-D, and others) and the juxtaposition of representational (yet slightly Cubist) graphics and more abstract forms."

"The purpose of the film is summed up in one of its intertitles: “Say it with flowers.” This is a typical example of a film made with an open ending, where a local florist could add its logo or address card. For information on Walter Ruttmann, see the entry for Der Sieger (1922) in Programme 2." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: "Lasst Blumen sprechen": a florist's ad as a vision of Paradise. A tendency towards abstraction, charming colour. *

LOUIS SEEL FILMBILDERBOGEN: AMORS TAGEBUCH II – EIN ZEICHNERISCHER SCHERZ [Album cinematografico di Louis Seel: diario di Cupido II: scherzo grafico / Louis Seel Film Album: Amor’s Diary II – A Graphic Joke] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, DE 1924). D: Louis Seel; P: Julius Pinschewer; AD: Oskar Fischinger; 35 mm, 186 m, 9'02" (18?-20 fps), col.  (tinted); anim: rotoscope; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"Louis Seel was born in 1890 in America, and worked as a graphic artist for Mutt and Jeff’s Bud Fisher beginning in 1915. He immigrated to Germany in 1919, and became one of Germany’s most prolific animation artists. He started working for the Munich-based Moeve-Film, and founded his own company, Louis Seel & Co., in 1921 with Oskar Fischinger, who stayed with the firm until 1927. In 1924 Seel founded the company Louis-Seel-Incorporated in New York, with a Munich subsidiary, Louis-Seel-GmbH."

"Amor’s Diary is a medley of erotic scenes, connected by a little Cupid, who pursues the woman of his dreams to a masked ball." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Elegant erotic scenes with a "censor's hand" obscuring areas of a woman's nudity. Keyhole images, ice flowers, snow crystals. There are silhouette scenes such as the one where the woman who has lost her cape gets a lift in the gondola. For a moment I was reminded of Charley Chases's Limousine Love. *

DIE BARCAROLE [La barcarola / The Barcarolle] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, for Mauxion, Aachen, DE 1924). D: Lotte Reiniger; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 87 m, 3'27" (22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: silhouette; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"The company Mauxion, a producer of cocoa powder, chocolate bars, and truffles, was founded in 1855 in Berlin. Set in Venice, this poetic commercial wants the audience to believe that the saying “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” also applies to women. Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), best known for one of the first feature length animation films, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926), made more than 40 silhouette animation films during her career. Born in Berlin, her first venture into filmmaking was the collaboration on the title cards for Paul Wegener’s Rübezahls Hochzeit (Rübezahl’s Wedding, 1916). She was one of the founders of the Institut für Kulturforschung, where she made her first silhouette animation film in 1919. Another advertising film by Lotte Reiniger is Das Geheimnis der Marquise (The Secret of the Marchioness, 1922), promoting Beiersdorf’s Nivea products; this film, as well as Prince Achmed, are part of the collection of the Deutsches Filminstitut in Frankfurt." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Revisited Lotte Reiniger's masterpiece, the Venetian connection linking it to the film screened before. A beautiful colour print of the film about Amor's tears, with Mauxion chocolate Pralinen as the cure. *

DER BÖSE TRAUM [Il brutto sogno / The Bad Dream] (Pinschewer-Film AG, Berlin, for Lebensversicherungsanstalt Sachsen-Thüringen-Anhalt, Merseburg, DE 1928). D: Harry Jaeger; 35 mm, 88 m, 3'50" (20-22 fps); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A man dreams of his own death and how his family has to survive without him. When he wakes up he decides to get a life insurance policy. For information on Harry Jaeger, see the entry for Der Zahnteufel (The Tooth Devil) in Programme 2." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Fascinating: a death dream as a life insurance commercial. Part of it has a watercolour look. For a moment I was thinking about It's a Wonderful Life. *

DIE BREMER STADTMUSIKANTEN [I musicanti di Brema / The Town Musicians of Bremen] (Ufa, for Kaiser’s Brust-Caramellen, DE 1926). D: Curt Schumann; 35 mm, 24 m, 1'09" (18-20 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"The Town Musicians of Bremen have lost their voices! Kaiser’s Brust caramels save the day." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: This one has the look of both drawing and watercolour. Drei Tannen, three fir trees, are an element in the story of Kaiser's Chest Drops helping recover the lost voices of the famous musicians.

SCHLARAFFENLAND [Il paese della cuccagna / The Land of Milk and Honey] (Pinschewer-Film, Berlin, for GEG Deutscher Consumvereine [Großeinkaufsgesellschaft Deutscher Consumvereine GmbH], Hamburg, DE 1927). D: Harry Jaeger; 35 mm, 82 m, 3'59" (18-20 fps); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"Fritz dreams of the land of milk and honey, or rather the land of sausage and bacon. For information on Harry Jaeger, see the entry for Der Zahnteufel in Programme 2." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Pork products such as GEG tinned sausage and liver sausage are brought into the land of milk and honey. Also here the look is that of both drawing and watercolour. 

JORINDE UND JORINGEL [Jorinde e/and Joringel] (Institut für Kulturforschung e.V., Berlin, DE 1920). D: Toni Raboldt; 35 mm, 192 m, 7' (24 fps), col. (tinted); anim: silhouette; print source: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A witch turns Jorinde into a nightingale and paralyzes Joringel with a spell. When Joringel is able to move again the witch has captured the nightingale in her castle. One night he dreams of a flower, which he uses to save Jorinde." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A charming silhouette animation in colour. This fairy-tale, included in Grimms Märchen, is one of many transformations, ideal for animation. It is a nocturne about an enchanted forest. There is also an effect of an ink cloud out of which figures emerge. *

This show has been put together in excellent taste.

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