Prod.: Hans Fischinger (Alzenau). DCP. Col.
Oskar Fischinger’s works have gained popularity at once – popularity incredible for abstract cinema. And one of his goals indeed was – accessibility. So abstract images were always accompanied by ‘comprehensible’ music: jazz or popular classics. Since the 1930s Fischinger’s colour suites have been screened widely and researched thoroughly. And yet, we are still lacking ‘definite’ versions of some of his films, we do not have a complete and accurate list of all the animated commercials he made in the 1930s.
One of the cores of Gosfilmofond is the former collection of the Reichs-filmarchiv. Several Fischinger prints filmed in beautiful Gasparcolor have been recently located in the Russian archive – some of them have been identified decades ago, but nobody cared to compare prints with those existing in Europe and the U.S. Quadrate (1934) may be the rarest of them. Only small portions survive in the Fischinger collection of the Centre for Visual Music. A pure abstraction, the film was banned by the Reichsfilm- kammer. It may even be that Fischinger never finished this work – a lack of soundtrack in the existing fragments supports this hypothesis. But the Gosfilmofond print, albeit fragmentary, is synchronized with Otto Nicolai’s overture to Die lustigen Weiber von Widsor (a year later Fischinger will use it for Komposition in Blau)…
The Pink Guards on Parade (1934) – a commercial for pink Euthymol toothpaste manufactured by Parke-Davis. ‘Pink’ is the main word here: this little film had to be made in colour. While Fischinger had his fun mastering object animation and reaching a stereoscopic effect on a flat screen. A truly international work, Pink Guards were filmed in Berlin on Gevaert stock received from Belgium, and the prints were made in London, the new headquarters for Gasparcolor. Various elements (soundtrack, reels of negative, colour tests) are known to exist in different archives, and there’ve been two successful reconstruction attempts – in 2001 by William Moritz and in 2014 by Andrea Krämer. But only now have we obtained an authentic Gasparcolour print. And the footage slightly differs from the reconstructed versions – so there is still work to do for scholars and restorers.
Practically nothing is known about Meluka gaar frem! – aside from the fact that in 1934-35 Fischinger was working on several advertising shorts, and one of them was for Meluka cigarettes. This film must have been commissioned by Danske Reklame Bureau. It is another little variation on the theme of marching cigarettes, echoing the discoveries made for the famous Muratti Greift Ein. More research has to be done, but in the meantime we can enjoy a completely unknown work of the great filmmaker.
Tanz der Farben (1939) is by no means a lost film. Created by Hans Fischinger, Oskar’s younger brother, it is considered the last abstract film made in the Third Reich. And it is a worthy swan song. Oskar was experimenting with volume, texture, he tended to have a certain graphical ‘dominant’ in each film. Hans preferred thin lines, sharp angles – which created an effect of a more rough and tense movement with a ‘space resistance’. Tanz der Farben indeed resembles a non-figurative universe living by constantly changing laws. The Gosfilmofond print is quite unique – it is in fact three prints spliced into one, and these prints differ: Hans Fischinger was trying several colour solutions for the same musical sequence.