Friday, October 12, 2012

German Animation, 1910-1930 2: The Wonderful World of Things

German Animation, 1910-1930 2: Il meraviglioso mondo delle cose / The Wonderful World of Things. Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone (German Animation), e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Günter A. Buchwald, 12 Oct 2012.

DER ZAHNTEUFEL [Il diavolo dei denti / The Tooth Devil] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, for Beiersdorf & Co. GmbH, Hamburg, DE 1915?/1921?). D: Harry Jaeger; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 58 m, 2'32" (20-22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"This commercial for Pebeco toothpaste might be Harry Jaeger’s first animated film (it is unclear whether it was made in 1915 or 1921 – censorship documents say 1921, Pinschewer says it was made in 1915). Jaeger started out as a photographer; during World War I he was trained as a cameraman at BUFA (Bild- und Filmamt), the war ministry’s umbrella organization for all government and military film, founded in January 1917. After the war Jaeger worked for Julius Pinschewer, as well as a number of other advertising film producers." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: It is literally the Devil himself who is attacking the tooth with his drill. Zu Hilfe! Luckily there is the Pebesco toothpaste whose very existence frightens the devil. 

DER SIEGER [Il vincitore / The Winner] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, for Excelsior Reifen, Hannoversche Gummiwerke, Hannover, DE 1922). D: Walter Ruttmann; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 50 m, 2'11’’ (20 fps), col. (hand-coloured); anim: hand-drawn, cut-outs; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"An abstract commercial for Excelsior automobile tires."

"Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941) began studying architecture in 1907 in Zürich; two years later he changed to painting, first in Munich, then in Marburg. He served as an artillery lieutenant at the Eastern Front from 1914 and returned home as a pacifist in 1917. In 1920 he founded the company Ruttmann-Film GmbH in Munich and patented his animation stand. The animation stand, the first such device to be patented in Germany, was used to make the first animated abstract film in colour with the accompaniment of a specially composed musical score, Lichtspiel Opus I (1921). Ruttmann subsequently made several commercials with abstract elements for Pinschewer." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A purely Ruttmannian animation, tending towards abstraction (circles, wheels, flames, waves, stairs). Fine colour in this print. Wonderful. *

DAS WUNDER [Il miracolo / The Miracle] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, for Kantorowicz, DE 1922). D: Walter Ruttmann; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 48 m, 2'05" (20 fps), col.; anim: hand-drawn, cut-outs; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A commercial for Kantorowicz liqueur."

AA: Another typical Ruttmann animation with reduced figures. Colour is essential, and the colours (red, green, yellow) are good in this print.

DER ERSTE EHEZWIST [La prima disputa coniugale / The First Marital Dispute] (Döring-Film Werke, Hannover, for Spanetti, DE 1924). D: Resl Bucher, Karl Pindl; 35 mm, 82 m., 3'59’’ (18 fps), col. (tinted & toned); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"An animated commercial for the chocolate brand Spanetti. The animator’s hand draws a woman who is waiting for her husband to return home. He arrives intoxicated, which earns him a thorough beating. Only a bar of Spanetti milk chocolate soothes the furious woman. The husband and wife are sucked back into the animator’s pen." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: An "out of the inkwell" style framework: the figures to the marital drama emerge from the artist's ink pen. Amor springs to help with his advice and a Spinetti chocolate bar brings back the bliss. The titles are in verse.

DER HARTNÄCKIGE SELBSTMÖRDER [Il suicida ostinato / The Stubborn Suicide] (Werbe-Kunst-Film AG, Berlin, DE 1925). D: Curt Schumann; 35 mm, 51 m, 2'01" (22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A man wants to commit suicide. This advertising film for department stores contains empty spaces (a plaque outside a building and a card held up at the end) for the insertion of a client’s name." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: The return of the suicide plot in a commercial. With little success the man tries to hang himself and poison himself with gas. But luckily there is an entirely different solution to the dilemma of life: clothes make a man.

IN SCHNEEKÖNIGS REICH [Nella terra del re delle nevi / In the Kingdom of the Snow Giant] (Deulig-Film AG, Berlin, DE 1926). D: Ewald Mathias Schumacher; 35 mm, 89 m, 3'53" (20-22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: silhouette; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A commercial made by Ewald Mathias Schumacher, whose silhouette animations are sometimes mistaken for Lotte Reiniger films. The ruler of the Pole kidnaps the princess of the Orient. His frosty realm makes her recoil in horror, but thanks to a nice bath drawn from his modern hot water tank he wins her heart after all. The film’s client is unknown." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: It is easy to understand that Schumacher's work may be mistaken for Reiniger's as his style is refined in this silhouette fairy-tale with cranes and the oriental woman frozen in ice and snow and saved by a hot bath.

FLAMMENTANZ [Danza delle fiamme / Dance of the Flames] (Deulig-Film AG, Berlin, DE 1926). D: Ewald Mathias Schumacher; 35 mm, 59 m, 2'34" (20-22 fps), col. (hand-coloured); anim: silhouette; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"This gorgeous film combines the colours of the rainbow with a ballet of flame-bearing fantasy figures. The film’s client is unknown." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Another fine silhouette animation by Schumacher, with a wizard and the dance of the flames, advertising Gaskoks = gas coke.

DAS ZÜNDHOLZ [Il fiammifero / The Matchstick] (Werbefilm GmbH, Berlin, for GEG deutscher Consumvereine [Großeinkaufsgesellschaft Deutscher Consumvereine mbH], Hamburg, DE 1926). D: Lutz Michaelis; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 89 m, 3'32" (22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"One of the outstanding features of the Pinschewer productions is the precision of the colouring methods. In this commercial for GEG safety matches the bright red tinting in the fire scenes is combined with a green speech bubble." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A matchstick commercial in verse, the story of all the trouble one can have with matchsticks until one understands to select GEG safety matches, "imprägniert ohne Nachglut".

// not shown FELITA, DIE KATZE [La gatta Felita / Felita the Cat] (Werbe-Kunst-Film AG, Berlin, for Eltgas, DE 1926). D: Curt Schumann; 35 mm, 84 m, 3'20" (22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"Felita the Cat lives in a house full of electrical appliances by Eltgas. She uses them to cook a mouse and to get ready for her rendezvous with a Felix look-alike who serenades her in her front yard." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH. not shown //

IM FILMATELIER [Nello studio cinematografico / At the Film Studio] (Pinschewer-Film, Berlin, for Bayer, Leverkusen, DE 1927). D: Gerda Otto, Hedwig Otto; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 97 m., 3'32" (24 fps); anim: stop-motion; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"This puppet stop-motion film made by Hedwig Otto (b. 23.3.1873, Berlin) and her daughter Gerda (b. 31.3.1897, Berlin) features a languishing actress at a film studio. While she is being plagued by a headache her director uses the opportunity to shoot a commercial for Bayer Aspirin. It’s unknown where the mother and daughter team learned their craft, so perhaps they were self-taught masters of the stop-motion technique and the building of lovingly detailed miniature sets and dolls. Together they made at least three stop-motion commercials for Pinschewer-Film AG, all of which are preserved at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A Bayer Aspirin commercial about the headaches one can have when a film star is being photographed at a film studio.

NUR DU! [Solo tu! / Only You!] (Mode-Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, DE 1927). D: ?; C: Ernst Hofmann, Tala Birell; 35 mm, 125 m, 4'33" (24 fps); anim: live action, hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"An early example of a well-known actor doing advertising work: Ernst Hofmann can be seen here opposite Tala Birell in a commercial for stockings which combines live-action and animation. Before shooting this ad Hofmann (1890-1944) had appeared in more than 80 silent films, including Algol (1920, Hans Werckmeister) and Satanas (1920, F.W. Murnau). One of the earliest known films combining live-action and animation is J. Stuart Blackton’s The Enchanted Drawing (1900,  Vitagraph). One of the earliest surviving German films to do so is Louis Seel’s Münchner Filmbilderbogen Nr. 9 (1922), which is now held at Filmmuseum München. In April 1921 Svend Noldan and Hans Pander registered a German patent for a method of combining live-action and animation." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A sepia-coloured stocking commercial combining live action and animation, showing the difficulties one can have with runs in the stocking when one does not understand to select good stockings.

HERR JEDERMANN IST WISSENSDURSTIG! [Il signor Qualunque è assetato di sapere / Mr. Everyman Is Thirsty for Knowledge!] (Werbekunst Epoche Reklame GmbH, Berlin, for Meyers Lexikon, DE 1928). D: Hans Fischerkoesen; SC: Wilhelm Thiele?; 35 mm, 57 m, 2'16" (22 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"Hans Fischer was born in 1896 in Bad Kösen, the source of his selfcreated pseudonym “Fischerkoesen”. He worked for the Pinschewer studios and also started his own studio for animation films in 1920, Dux-Film Leipzig, which became Fischerkoesen-Film in 1929. In this advertising film for Meyers Lexikon, a popular German encyclopedia, Mr. Everyman, thirsty for knowledge, wants to look up information on “Mussolini, voting rights, cocaine”, which rhymes in the German version with “taxes, radio, Tauentzien”."

"One of the most prolific graphic artists of silent animation films, Fischerkoesen made more than 50 films for Julius Pinschewer from 1920 to 1928. In 1928 he became head of the design department at the advertising film section of Ufa, which competed with Pinschewer. He reached the height of his career as an advertising film producer in West Germany in the 1950s, when he made millions in turnover, employed more than 50 people, and was called the “German Disney” by the newsmagazine Der Spiegel." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Before the internet: encyclopedias such as Meyer Lexikon were all-important, "im Sommer 1930 vollständig". It could replace a whole case of books.

PITJE BACKSPIER ALS PELZJÄGER [Pitje Backspier cacciatore di pellicce / Pitje Backspier as Fur Hunter] (Ewald-Film GmbH, for Sanitas, DE 1928). D: ?; 35 mm, 67 m, 2'55" (20 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A slightly surreal commercial starring Captain Pitje Backspier, who uses his Sanitas brand hair-dryer to power his sail boat, gain blubber from a walrus, and get a polar bear’s fur. The normal actual use of a hair-dryer is never pictured, but we are informed that over half a million have already been sold." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A crazy, absurd animation where the hair-dryer has multiple uses as explained above. A commercial in verse with a fine blue hue for the Arctic Ocean.

KÜCHENREBELLEN [Ribelli in cucina / Kitchen Rebels] (Pinschewer-Film AG, Berlin, for Lever Brothers, DE 1928). D: ?; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 100 m, 3'38" (24 fps); anim: live action, stop-motion; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"When a kitchen maid does not succeed in cleaning the cooking utensils properly, some of them come to her rescue by getting her some VIM scouring powder at the local drugstore. This commercial was re-released in a sound version in 1934." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A stop motion animation about the maid and her trouble in cleansing the kitchen utensils (a rolling pin, a pot, a jug) until VIM scouring powder provides the solution.

DAS WETTERHÄUSCHEN [La casetta del tempo / The Little Weather-House] (Pinschewer-Film AG, Berlin, for IG-Farben, Leverkusen, DE 1929). D: Gerda Otto, Hedwig Otto; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 120 m., 4'46" (22 fps), col. (hand-coloured); anim: stop-motion; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"The second surviving stop-motion film by Gerda and Hedwig Otto. The inhabitants of a weather-house are caught out by a sudden rain shower. Her dress is ruined, and they go downtown together to find a replacement. Her new outfit, and their new curtains and tablecloth, are made with colour-fast and light-resistant Indanthren textiles. This film won an award in 1929 at the first international commercial film competition at the advertising fair in Berlin. (For information about Gerda and Hedwig Otto, see the entry for Im Filmatelier earlier in this programme.)" ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: A puppet animation about a loving couple in a little weather-house, exposed to sun and rain, finding a solution in Indanthren textiles. A rooster understands what it's all about.

DIE KATASTROPHE [La catastrofe / The Catastrophe] (Pinschewer-Film AG, Berlin, for GEG Deutscher Consumvereine [Großeinkaufsgesellschaft Deutscher Consumvereine mbH], Hamburg, DE 1930). D: Leni Fischer; P: Julius Pinschewer; 35 mm, 113 m, 4'29" (22-24 fps); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"This commercial for the washing-powder brand GEG-Famos is like a mini-documentary on the tedious techniques of doing the laundry before modern washing machines were invented. Who can still imagine that it took two whole days of hard manual labour until one had fresh sheets again? Leni Fischer, Fischerkoesen’s sister, had been working with him in the 1920s and rejoined him after World War II when he reopened his animation film studio in West Germany." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: The catastrophe of the title is the fact that the hen and the rooster walk over the linen left to dry. The GEG-Famos washing-powder supposedly helps prevent catastrophes such as this.

[WERBEFILM FÜR TISCHTÜCHER VON BIELSCHOWSKY] [Film pubblicitario per le tovaglie Bielschowsky / Commercial for Bielschowsky Tablecloths] (?, for Bielschowsky, DE, c.1920-29?). D: ?; 35 mm, 20 m, 43" (24 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"A husband and wife try to escape from a burning building. While he crashes through a flimsy jumping sheet held by the fire-fighters, she lands safely on her tablecloth made by Bielschowsky." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: Effective red colour for the fire.

[WERBEFILM FÜR DIE NEUE FORD-LIMOUSINE] [Film pubblicitario per la nuova Ford Limousine / Ford Commercial] (?, for Ford Motor Company, DE, c.1920-29?). D: ?; 35 mm, 53 m, 1'55" (24 fps), col. (tinted); anim: hand-drawn; print source: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Deutsche Zwischentitel.

"An Eskimo in a racing car abducts a polar bear mother’s children. She flings away her knitting and borrows the new Ford limousine from the North Pole garage. After a quick chase she rescues her children." ANNETTE GROSCHKE & DORIS HACKBARTH.

AA: An absurd animation about the polar bear family reunited with the help of the new Ford limousine.

The sum of these two German animation programmes 1910-1930 is of a magical dance of objects of consumption. They are largely commercials, but especially now that many of the brands no longer exist even they have become like fiction. Great talent is evident also in the animations made by less known artists. The visual quality of the show is good. The programmes have been very well mounted with funny links between movies that follow each other. The concept in the commercials that life's problems can be solved by using a certain product is ridiculous, and one feels one is laughing with the artists at such notions.

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