Allegretto (1936)

Allegretto develops itself as an invigorating contrast between overlapping, expanding concentric circles and flocks of angular, foreground shapes that sail across the screen in time to Rainger's jazzy score.
There's a series of white and pale green lozenges, irregularly distributed across a larger rhomboid shape composed of rectangles divided into red and deep green at each of whose tip hovers a scattering of white diamonds. Diamond and oval shapes in primary colors perform a sensual, upbeat ballet to the music of composer Ralph Rainger. The geometric dance is set against a background of expanding circles that suggest radio waves. Allegretto presents an intricate layering of a number of recurring motives.



This was the first film Oskar Fischinger made after he emigrated from Berlin to Hollywood in order to escape the increasingly difficult political situation in Germany. He made the film for Paramount as a kind of interlude in a longer musical film but the collaboration collapsed completely and it was never used.
He found that Paramount had changed the film project from Technicolor to black-and-white. Also, Paramount printed the black-and-white version intercut with various live action images, so it was no longer totally abstract.
Several years later, with the help of Hilla von Rebay, the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (Guggenheim Foundation) allowed him to buy his short film Allegretto back from Paramount, so he was able to complete it in color as he had originally intended. Fischinger then redid and re-painted the cells and made a color version to his satisfaction. The layers of cels allowed Fischinger to develop rhythms, harmonies and counterpoints of forms, while the colors change from frame to frame to create lush hues on divisionist principles, achieving particularly luminous and chromatic hues that could not be produced by normal methods of animation photography (William Moritz). Fischinger was forced to finance the distribution of this film himself and was able to make only a few copies but the film was shown at museums and centers of advanced art all over the world. This became one of the most-screened and successful films of visual music's history and one of Fischinger's most popular films.
You can buy these: The importance of being Fischinger and Oskar Fischinger: Ten Films (DVD).

7 comments:

mella said...

I'm sorry that Barbara Fishinger told me that the Fischinger Trust and Archive is "horrified at how you are treating Fischinger and his work" and that "The clip of Allegretto you have linked to on your blog is the worst copy we have ever seen in this film's history". The fact is that this is the only copyleft version I could find. I'd thank all that wrote to me because they did not know Fischinger's works and found Allegretto awesome. I'm sure that many of you are buying the dvd that CVM has released.

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