Walther Ruttmann

35mm. D.: 11′ 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

One of the first composers for radio and greatly interested in Gebrauchsmusik [“applied, utility music”] famously pioneered by Paul Hindemith in the 1920s and 1930s, Butting believed in music that existed other than for its own sake. In this sense Butting’s earlier “Hausmusik” [Music for the Home] fits into this category beautifully as well as the utilitarian instrumental concerto for banjo and of course film music, the most far-reaching medium of all. The music for Opus I is for string orchestra and extends the branch of musical thought first established by Arnold Schoenberg and the Verklärte Nacht [Transfigured Night].

Timothy Brock

In a Frankfurt cinema theatre, the U.T. im Schwan, before a small audience of artists and critics, was presented the following, shown on a black surface: in rhythmic movement there appeared circular forms of blue colour, which expanded, to then dissolve into elliptical configurations. Spiky forms intruded like thorns from the edges of the image, thrusting towards the central part. Red and light green ribbons crossed the surface as in a dance. Now indefinable contours fluttered like birds, now round forms and angular forms pricked one another in a prestissimo movement. A red sun pulsated as if in labour, a coloured ray moved as if in breathing; cubic forms came rushing to the central part of the image; waves fluctuated and darted. And the impression aroused by this amorphous spectacle was: The Creation.

Its author is the Munich painter Walter Ruttmann, who with this Photodram op. 1, still without a title, has created a work of great fantasy; and in order to achieve it has painted a good ten thousand drawings over a period of nine months, and has then managed to realise his painted film thanks to the invention of a technical apparatus. (…)

This art is only an external means for the expressive method of the painter, as a way for his forms painted by hand to reach the eyes. But his aim is not to provide the usual production of a painter, an image fixed in time and representing a unique instant. The sense of the new art is painting in motion.

Bernhard Diebold, Eine neue Kunst. Die Augenmusik des Films [A New Art. The Eye-music of Films], “Frankfurter Zeitung”, April 2 1921

Copy From

Original score by Max Butting restored by Timothy Brock