Films by Hans Richter
AN INDEX TO THE CREATIVE WORK OF HANS RICHTER
By Herman G. Weinberg
(Revised to date from the original edition published in 1946 by the British Film Institute
as No.6 in the Index Series)
Flaherty came as an explorer to the film, Richter as a painter. Flaherty explored the face
of the world, Richter explored the mysteries of the world of inner vision, of beauty, and
the hidden contents of our dreams.
Richter came to the film by accident. As a painter, his interest was in abstract forms and
rhythms, first on canvas, then on scrolls, like the old Chinese. His results with scroll
paintings made him desirous of elaborating this on the screen in movement. The film
engrossed him for 35 years. A continuity of purpose is maintained through his work from
1921 to the present. It was the line of the indefatigable and zealous experimentor who the
anti-Nazi Metal (as far back as 1931); a film on the unemployment crisis in Europe, No
Time for Tears; Candide; Muenchhausen. It was difficult to convince producers to back
such projects. Often when Richter succeeded in finding such a sponsor, the political crisis
carried the sponsor away, or even Richter himself.
As an artist, he believed in the film as a new medium to reveal beauty and truth. As a
citizen, he believed in the responsibility of the artist. To unite these, he painted, filmed,
taught and wrote. His review, “G”, in 1926, heralded rebelliously: “What the film needs
is not so much an audience as artist!” – meaning that the artist is responsible for his
audience, a new audience created by the artist.
PRELUDE (Klein-Koelzig, 1919)
Scroll drawing. 4 years long. Variations on an abstract theme, which was also a “prelude”
to the first abstract film.
A realization on film, in 1920, developed the animation of one of the 10 scroll-drawings
of “Prelude”. Richter’s first film, considered by him as a test. Length: 30 ft. (Archives of
Eoskop Laboratories, Basle, Switzerland.)
FUGUE (Klein-Koelzig, 1920)
Scroll drawing. 3 years long. Following the difficulties of the first film test, he made a
simpler scroll, easier to animate. Even this was too complex to animate. Against the
opposition of his colleague, Viking Eggling, Richter abandoned painting as a primary
step towards making an abstract film.
RHYTHMUS 21 (Berlin, 1921)
Originally called Film is Rhythm. The first “pure” film. Designed and photographed by
Richter. Original length: 120 ft. Final length: 250 feet. Here Richter took the form the
screen gave him-the square and the rectangle- and moved them rhythmically with and
against each other. The first film to use negative as positive. Theo van Doesburg
sponsored the premiere in Paris, introducing Richter as a Dane because of post-World
War I feeling against Germans. (Museum of Modern Art, New York; Cinemathèque
RHYTHMUS 23 (Berlin, 1923)
Designed by Richter. Photographed by Charles Métain. 200 feet. Here lines played
against mass. The construction of a system of shutters on strings, and movable slides,
enabled Richter to film light reflections on a screen instead of having to animate “cut-
outs”. The premiere at the Ufa Kurfuerstendamm Theatre in Berlin ended in a near-riot.
ORCHESTRATION OF COLOR (Berlin, 1923)
Vertical scroll painting (in distinction to the others, which were horizontal). Composition
of squares in red-green and blue-yellow. 3 yards. Exhibited in Europe and New York.
Planned as both painting, per se, and as an outline for counterpointing color on film.
Until this scroll, painting had influenced Richter’s film work. From now on, film began
to influence his painting.
RHYTHMUS 25 (Berlin, 1925)
Richter’s third “absolute” film. 250 feet. Photographed by Charles Métain. Based on the
scroll, “Orchestration of Color”. Shot in black and white and hand-colored.
FILMSTUDIE (Berlin, 1926)
Designed by Richter. Photographed by Richter and Endrejat. Original length: 600 feet.
First presented to music by Ernst Toch, later recorded in an abbreviated version to a
fragment from Darius Milhaud’s “La Creation du Monde”. A film evaluating plastic
forms of objects, interrupted by a dream-like motive (eyes floating through space, etc.)
and percussive shocks. (Museum of Modern Art, New York; Cinemathéque Française,
INFLATION (BERLIN, 1927-28)
Produced for UFA as an introduction to the feature film, “The Lady With the Mask”, set
during the German inflation period. Scenario and design: Richter. Photography: Charles
Métain. 900 feet. The film industry’s first recognition of the “advance-guard”. Here facts,
abstract forms, symbols, comic effects, etc., were used to interpret the facts. Inflation set
the pattern for Richter’s later essay-films (semi-documentaries to express ideas).
(Fragment at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Cinemathéque Française, Paris.)
VORMITTAGSSPUK (Berlin, 1927-28)
(Ghosts Before Noon.) Designed and directed by Richter. Photography: Reimar Kuntze.
Music: Paul Hindemith. Original length: 900 feet. Released by Tobis in 450 feet.
(Recorded by Tobis in 1929.) With Darius Milhaud, Jean Oser, Walter Gronostay,
Werner Graeff, Paul Hindemith and Hans Richter, as actors in it.
An experimental film for the International Music Festival, Baden-Baden, 1928. A
humorous grotesque in which objecxts (hats, ties, coffee cups, etc.) rebel against their
daily routine. “Objects are also people” and (they) follow their own laws” – “the rhythm
of the clock” (H.R.). At the stroke of noon they gladly return to their functional state.
Hindemith’s score was played by an orchestra in the theatre pit, whose conductor led
them from a rolling score synchronized to the speed of the film. This pre-sound device
was invented by R. Blum.
RENNSYMPHONIE (Berlin, 1928-29)
(Race Symphony.) Scenario and direction by Richter. Photography: Tober. One reel.
Documentary produced for Maxim-Emelka, Berlin, as an introduction for the feature
film, “Ariadne in Hoppegarten” for which the sponsor wanted “a flower in the
buttonhole”-to pep up his film. The preparation of a race track and the beginning of a
1918-29. Group of industrial films, including Zweigroschenzauber (Two-Penny Magic).
Produced for the Koelnische Illustrierte Zeitung. This was a “little symphony” of
movements taken from events as noted in any illustrated newspaper. Its composition was
musical. Similar films were produced by Richter in this period for automobile, house-
building, cigarette, shoe and nutrition, etc., companies, frequently at the rate of one a
ALLES DREHT SICH, ALLES BEWEGT SICH! (Berlin, 1929)
Tobis production. Scenario: Werner Graeff and Hans Richter. Directoed by Richter.
Photography: Reimar Kuntze. Music: Walter Gronostay. Taken from the circus-barker’s
cray at a Berlin carnival, “Everything revolves, everything moves!” A day at such a
carnival, with all its brashness, noise and boisterous humour. Filmed on large negative (2
inches wide), a pre-requisite for early sound films in Europe. The first sound cameras (as
used here) were so heavy that no tilt or pan shots could be made. Recording of certain
consonants was poor and “synthetic” consonants had to be spliced into the negative
sound track. Music and words, as well as sound, were used as strong rhythmical
elements, not naturalistically. Awarded First Prize by the Nazis at the Lessing
Hochschule in 1936, for artistic merit, with Richter’s name suppressed from the film. He
had long since left Germany. (At its premiere in Baden-Baden, Richter got into a fight
with two Nazi officials who disliked the film’s “modernism”. It was this incident that led
Prometheus in Berlin to hire Richter to make the anti-Nazi Metal.)
NEW LIVING (Zurich, 1930)
Documentary for the Schweizer Werkbund. 2 reels. Camera: Emil Berna. 5 cenario and
direction: Richter. (Silent.)
Achievements in modern architecture, especially in Switzerland. First use of “static”
pictures, engravings, etc., as an integral part of the film.
Industrial films for Philips Radio (1930-38) (Berlin, Eindhoven, Paris): Europe-Radio, I
reel, music by Walter Gronostay. Hello, Everybody! 2 1⁄2 reels, music by Darius Milhaud.
From Lighting to Television, 3 reels, music by Walter Gronostay. Photography by E. von
Barsay and John Ferno.
1930. Delegate to the Second Congress of the Independent Film, Brussells. (Eisenstein
headed the First Congress the year before in La Saraz, Switzerland.) Richter headed the
German delegation. Foremost on the agenda was the film as a weapon in the rapidly
growing crisis in Europe- the first rumblings of Hitlerism.
METAL (Berlin, Moscow, Odessa, 1931-33) (Uncompleted)
Prometheus Production (Berlin) in association with Mejrabpom-Russ (Moscow).
Scenario and direction: Richter. Photography: Katelnikoff. Assistant-director: Ogonesow.
Sound. 8 reels.
Begun as a feature-documentary of a strike in Henningsdorf on the rising tide of Nazi and
Stahlhelm hooliganism and developed as events progressed into a semi-documentary
political film. It exposed Nazi strike-breaking and murder methods. The production was
abandoned before the last two reels were shot, shortly after Hitler came into power.
NO TIME FOR TEARS (Paris, 1933-34) (Planned)
Scenario by Anna Seghers, Frederick Kohner, Hans Richter. A feature film written for
the German actress, Margarete Melzer, to have been directed by Richter. Based on an
actual incident of a woman who took the job, vacated by her husband who had died, of a
night-watchman in a west German mining district, in order to support her children. She
lived and worked as a man, in men’s clothes, for a year and a half until a mine accident
disclosed her sex. The project was abandoned when half the sponsors backed out because
of the political unrest in France in 1934.
CANDIDE (Paris, 1934) (Planned)
A modernized version of Voltaire’s famous satire. Scenario by Richter. Against the
onrushing tide of barbarism in Europe, Candide’s optimism becomes less excusable than
ever. The problem of the model husband and citizen, Candide, is to keep the world where
it stands, however it stands. He, therefore, accepts nationalism (or “national socialism” or
anything you want to call it) even when in its wake comes fascism, persecution and, as
the last word in progress, cannibalism, whereby the “superior” race eats the “inferior”
races, and the “better” half of the “superior” race the “worse” half. Thus, all social and
economic problems are solved. Originally written as a novelette, later expanded into a
film scenario. No studio or producer would touch it-naturally.
BARON MUNCHHAUSEN (Zurich, 1937) (Planned)
The great liar, Munchhausen, was to serve Richter with a scenario less biting in its satire
than Candide. George Meliés, then living in Orly, France, agreed to collaborate with
Richter and to design the sets. (20 years earlier Meliés had made a short “Munchhausen”
film.) Meliés died suddenly in 1938 and the project was put off.
1937-39. Richter acted as producer-director for Central-Film, Zürich. This period
included Conquest of the Sky, a documentary, with music by Darius Milhaud, in three
versions (English, French, German); We Live In a New World (3 reeks); Hans im Glueck,
a comedy, 600 feet; etc.
1939-41. Producer-director for Frobenius Film, Basle (who promised to produce the
Munchhausen film if Richter accepted a post with them). This period included The Birth
of Colour (2 reels, in black and white and colour, documentary on the transformation of
tar into pigment); Stock Exchange as Market (2 1⁄2 reels, a condensed history of different
market forms from primitive times to to-day; an “essay-film” which emphasized the
economic and social reasons for the changing market forms; here, stills of paintings, old
prints, engravings, and other historical documents were used as an integral part of the
film as “arguments”).
THE LIES OF BARON MUNCHHAUSEN (Zurich, 1939)
Richter again started work on his Munchhausen satire about the outrageous liar whose
lies, nevertheless, are understatements of what is happening in the world to-day.
Shrewdly envisaged as a “screen” behind which things could be said that could not
otherwise be said. Jacques Prévert, Jacques Brunius and Maurice Henry, scenarists. Jean
Renoir recommended the film to his company for distribution and a contract for three
million francs was signed in Paris, where casting began. Preparation for sets began in
Muenchenstein. The war ended the project. Three years later Richter learned that the
Nazis had begun the production of a Munchhausen film in Germany.
1940. Lectures at the University of Basle, ETH, Zürich, illustrated with films, on the role
of the progressive film. Two film projects remained unrealized in this period: (a)
Democracy and the Guilds, showing how an outlived state economy, i.e., government
control of industry, could not flourish by decree (abandoned because of the war); (b) Two
Sieges, with anti-Nazi overtones, on Switzerland’s struggle for freedom in the 15th
1941. Another project unrealized, a “super-essay-film”, consisting of five political film
essays bound together by a “frame”. Before this project could go into production, Richter
left Switzerland for the United States.
Film Essays (New York, 1941) (Planned):
THE MONROE DOCTRINE
(In collaboration with Kenneth White.)
THE FOUR FREEDOMS
(As outlined by President Roosevelt, to have consisted of four historical film essays.)
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN AMERICA
Another projected film-essay on a phase of democracy.
That year Richter tried unsuccessfully to sell his Munchhausen script to Hollywood.
Followed a period of exhibitions of early scroll paintings at the Group Show of American
Abstract Artists, Masters of Abstract Art (Helena Rubenstein’s), etc., lecturing and
conducting a film course at the College of the City of New York. In 194 prepared a
chronology, “A History of the Advance Guard”, for the Museum of Modern Art.
THE MOVIES TAKE A HOLIDAY (New York, 1944)
An anthology of the advance-guard, edited by Richter from films by René Clair, Renoir,
Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Richter, etc., with an introduction and
“frame” showing the derivation of modern art, its influence on the film, and its role in
modern life: the raison d’être of the experimental film. In collaboration with Herman G.
In 1944 Richter became acting supervisor of the rapidly expanding Institute of Film
Techniques, in New York.
VICTORY IN THE EAST (Southbury, Conn., 1944)
First of a series of “historical” scroll-paintings. 6 yards. Oil and collage.
STORY OF THE UNICORN (New York, 1945) (Planned)
A one-reel scenario for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in collaboration
with Suzanne Hare. A lyrical film-essay on the legendary unicorn, mystical animal of
love. People believed in the existence of the unicorn up to as late as the 19th century.
THE ACCIDENT (New York, 1944-46)
A “test film” on race discrimination, produced for the American-Jewish Committee, after
a story by Siegfried Kracauer and Hans Richter. Scenario: Hans Richter. The film is
designed to test audience-reaction after its showing, via questionnaires, etc. (One reel.)
LIBERATION OF PARIS (Southbury, Con., 1945)
Vertical scroll painting. Oil and collage. 2 1⁄2 yards.
DREAMS THAT MONEY CAN BUY (New York, 1944)
Produced by Hans Richter for Art of This Century Films Inc. (Founded by Peggy
Guggenheim, Kenneth MacPherson and Hans Richter.) Directed by Richter. Camera:
Arnold Eagle. Assistant director: Miriam Raiburn. Scenarios by Fernand Léger, Marcel
Duchamp, Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Hans Richter. Music by Paul
Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Edgar Varése, Paul Bowles.
A feature length film. Six fantastic visions, dreams, songs and stories, in colour, united
by an equally fantastic “frame-story” in black and white. This film realizes, unhampered
by any production cliché, or “audience necessity”, the visions of six modern artists using
the film as a creative medium, as artists use painting, sculpture, literature or music.
Special Award at the Venice Film Festival “For the best original contribution to the
progress of cinematography.”
One man show at Galerie des Deux Iles, Paris, 1950, of new scrolls and “orchestrations”,
Catalogue notes by Jean Arp, who stated: “Hans Richter is a great grandson of the old
Egyptian scribes. His hieroglyphic scroll paintings are part of the oldest documents of
human writing… he has made of his scrolls grandiose poems.”
THIRTY YEARS OF EXPERIMENT (1951)
A 58 minute anthology of ten experimental films and film fragments from Richter’s films
between 1921 and 1951, plus excerpts from Eggeling’s Diagonal Symphony and
Ruttmann’s Opus 4, concluding with an epilogue, “Six Modern Artists Make a Film”,
consisting of candid shots during the making of Dreams That Money Can Buy.
Experimental sound-track accompanying.
One man show at the Stedelijk Museum (Museum of Modern Art) Amsterdam, followed
by one man show, Galerie Mai, Paris, both 1953, of new scroll paintings, triptychs and
PASSIONATE PASTIME (1956)
A 28 minute introduction to “8×8”. The history of chess, narrated by Vincent Price;
music by Douglas Townsend (on a theme by Milhaud) and Robert Abramson; sound
editor: Richter. The story of chess from the pre-chess days (2500 B.C.) til the present,
utilizing various carved chess figures as manifold as the various peoples that have played
the game, from the most primitive to the most sophisticated, reflecting the unending
delight in the game. Narration written by Richter. With Marcel Duchamp and Larry
Evans (former American chess champion).
A 19 minute historical document of dadaism (Richter was one of the original dadaists).
The sound-track includes poems by Jean Arp from 1918-40, spoken by himself; an
abstract “sound poem” by Raoul Hausmann, 1919, spoken by himself; an abstract “sound
poem” by Raoul Hausmann, 1919, spoken by himself; an excerpt from “Fantastic
Prayers”, 1916, by Richard Hulsenbeck, spoken by himself; “Sound Sonata”, an abstract
poem by the late Kurt Schwitters, 1921, and “Anna Blume”, both spoken by himself; and
“pun poems”, “postcard”, and a statement on his glass paintings, by (and spoken by)
Marcel Duchamp. With Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Jean Arp, Richard Hulsenbeck.
A “Chess Sonata for Film”, eight improvisations, with a prologue and epilogue, on the
game of chess; a 98 minute film in color played exclusively by non-actors: poets,
painters, composers, architects and pretty women. Each sequence has its special title and
special relationship to chess. Produced, written, directed, and designed by Hans Richter.
Photography: Arnold Eagle; Sound Direction: Hans Richter; Sound engineering: Bebe
and Louis Barron; Narrator: Edgar Lang; Title Designs: Jacob Rothenberg; Chess Sets:
Carlebach Gallery. Music by John Gruen, Robert Abramson, Hans Richter, Douglas
Townsend. Lyrics by John Latouche.
Wich Jean Arp, Jacqueline Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Julian Levy,
Richard Hulsenbeck, Alexander Calder, Ceil Bryson, Eugene Pellegrini, Jonkheer W.
Sandberg, Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning. Jean Cocteau, Paul Bowles, Ahmed Ben Driss
el Yacoubi, Jose L. Sert, Frederick Kiesler, Paul Wiener.
Additional credits: Song in “Black Schemes” sung by Oscar Brand. “The Self Imposed
Obstacle” produced and directed by Willem de Vogel and Hans Richter. “The Middle
Game” filmed in part by Elmer Purtinam on a theme by Dorothea Tanning. “Queening of
the Pawn”, written and directed by Jean Cocteau.
The 8 “moves”: “Black Schemes”, “A New Twist”, “Venetian Episode”, “The Self
Imposed Obstacle”, “The Middle Game”, “Queening of the Pawn”, “The Fatal Move”,
“Check the King”.
“G” (Berlin, 1923)
Richter published the first modern art magazine in Germany. “G” stood for “Gestaltung”
(creation). Edited by Werner Graeff, Mies van der Rohe and Hans Richter. The first
pictorial magazine, in the modern sense, in Germany. Drew contributors from all parts of
the world, from all the arts. The magazine’s film issue, in 1926, proclaimed: “What we
need is the political film”! The periodical lasted up to 1926.
FILMFEINDE VON HEUTE, FILMFREUNDE VON MORGEN (Berlin, 1928-29)
(Film Enemies of Today, Film Friends of Tomorrow.) An illustrated book on the
experimental film, published by Herman Reckendorf, Berlin, for the German Werkbund,
as a program book for the International Film and Photo Exhibition in Stuttgart, 1929. The
first book to utilize the principles of “montage” in putting together the text and
illustrations in continuity, each supplementing (and an integral part of) the other.
FILM, YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW (Carabietta, 1935)
Pamphlet for the Dutch Filmliga, published by Niht and Van Ditmar, Rotterdam, in
Dutch. A critical essay on the history of film writing.
DER KAMPF UM DEN FILM (Carabietta, 1936-39)
A critical book on the films as well as an analytical history of the progressive film. (Re-
printed, in part, in the Neue Zuericher Zeitung. Zürich.)
THE POLITICAL FILM (New York, 1941)
A pamphlet on Nazi propaganda films, in collaboration with Jay Leyda. Published in the
anti-fascist German magazine, “Deutsche Blätter”, Santiago, Chile.
FILM AND PROGRESS (New York, 1942)
A book on the positive and negative roles of the film in modern society. Begun in
collaboration with Herman G. Weinberg. (Published in Zürich.) From 1943 to 1956, Hans
Richter was director of the Institute of Film Techniques at the Collage of the City of New
York, from which he retired, as Professor, on Sept. 1, 1956. He has contributed
extensively to film periodicals here and abroad.
Published by FILM CULTURE magazine, 215 West 98th Street, New York 25, N.Y.
Copyright, 1957 by FILM CULTURE. Printed in the U.S.A.
• 1921: Rhytmus 21. Director
• 1923: Rythmus 23. Director
• 1925: Rythmus 25. Director
• 1926: Filmstudie. Writer/Director
• 1927: Inflation. Writer/Director
• 1928: Ghosts before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuk). Director
“Hans Richter created the film Ghosts before Breakfast, also known as Vormittagsspuk, in 1927/28. This was a silent experimental avant-garde film and it was the fifth film that he had made. The film itself is considered to be one of the first surrealistic films ever made. Richter’s interest in Dadaism is shown directly in this work as he challenges current art standards of the time by presenting a theme of obscurity and fantasy. Clocks, legs, ladders, hats, and people undergo total irrational happenings in unusual settings. Men have beards magically appear and disappear before the viewer’s eyes, hats fly around in the air, a man’s head comes off and floats in the air, tea cups fill up by themselves, objects and characters move in reverse, men disappear behind a street sign, etc… . All brought together by associative logic, the flying hats perform this function by continually reappearing to the sequence of shots to tie the film together as a whole. This film digs into the viewer’s mind for inner experience in thought and idea. It gives the audience a chance to release nervous tension when witnessing these abstractions shown through images. Richter tries to increase the viewer’s knowledge of reality by showing them surrealistic fantasy. He accomplishes this through his use of rhythm, and his use of the camera.
Rhythm is a very important element in all of Richter’s works. It can be seen in this film as well. Rhythm was shown in the use of movement in the characters. All of the characters seemed to have moved at the same spaced distance from one another and at the same speed. This clarified a sense of rhythm and intensified a sense of stability in the frame. The same number of characters or items also seemed to preserve rhythm. This may be found constantly throughout the film. If there were three hats then the next shot would contain three men. The numbers did fluctuate, but a number would remain constant throughout a couple of shots. Shapes in the film also preserved rhythm. This can be seen in Richter’s bulls-eye scene. The circles of the bulls-eye fill the screen and are spaced equally apart from one another. The target then breaks up and the circles spread out in the frame to relocate in different areas continuing to preserve rhythm. Rhythm is demonstrated in the scene with the guns that form a pin wheel type image and then start to spin. The five guns are equally spaced from one another and a rhythm is present in the speed at which they turn. The reoccurring image of the flying hats forms a rhythm as it ties the film together as a whole.
The way that Richter used the camera stressed his world of fantasy. One way that he did this was by experimenting with the camera and the film in it. It was almost a form of what we know now as trick photography. This is present in the scene when images are placed on top of each other (bulls-eye scene). This scene has the bulls-eye displayed, but with a man behind it. In this scene the man’s head falls off and drifts around in the target.
Richter also used fast motion to demonstrate a blossoming branch. We watch a branch bloom within a few seconds. Richter does this to clarify the use of time in his film and show a fantasy version of time. In this comical trick film, he also uses slowed down film speed. There is one scene with tea cups on a tray that come crashing to the ground. He slowed down the speed to intensify the breaking of the china and to clarify how the cups shatter as they make impact.
To go along with these slowed down and speed up transitions in the film Richter also demonstrated film played back in reverse. This was found in many spots: tea cups going back together, water going back into a hose, etc . . . . By doing these type of tricks Richter brought the viewer into the world of fantasy because one would never see this happen in reality.
Negatives were also used in this film. Richter used negatives of the film and placed them in different spots, thus showing comparison and contrast between the objects presented in both a “real world” versus a “negative world”. Since the film was in black and white we see the comparison made in the shades of black, white, and gray.
Richter’s handling of the camera emphasized how abstract and “shocking” the shots would come out. Positioning of the camera was constantly changing. This helped in making each upcoming shot more interesting to the viewer by providing a new outlook on the subject being presented. It helped distinguish the different shots by separating them. It would clarify that some thing new and unexpected was happening, thus intensifying a feel of curiosity of what will happen next. Many of the shots led into each other through the use of motion vectors even though the scenes might be unrelated. That is what makes this work so abstract – the unrelated scenes tied together by flying hats. No one scene would last for a long time and a lot of the edits were cutaways that were made very quickly. The edits helped in presenting the abstract and unexpected scenes to the viewer.
Through all of these cuts each shot or scene maintained a well balanced frame with well proportioned shapes and sizes that compared or contrasted their relativity. The use of these objects and characters demonstrated Richter’s interest in showing the x, y, and z axes. He demonstrated a sense of depth in many scenes such as the target scene, the unraveling of the hose scene, people walking and then disappearing behind a pole (exaggerated plane?), etc… . Richter filmed a lot of the scenes in his film by alternating the camera from primary motion (camera is stationary while objects/characters have movement in the frame) to secondary motion (camera moves along with objects/characters). Primary motion was shown in the gun scenes while secondary motion was shown in the flying hat scenes. The secondary motion of the camera in the flying hat scenes helped bring the mystery of the hats closer to the viewer. His camera movement helped clarify the situations at stake and intensify the viewer’s reaction to what was being presented./
One element of filming that Richter makes use of is lighting. He is demonstrating the lighting on many images to produce different effects of light/shadows. By doing this different textures are shown and it also helps in visualizing depth. This clarifies the size of the objects or situation in the frame by intensifying the “feel” (texture) of each subject displayed./
Richter made this film with continually changing shots so that the viewer does not just stare at the screen, but rather pay close attention and be curious of what is to come up next. Images of violence is a way that he keeps the viewer’s attention. The act of violence is clarified through the images of the breaking cups, the guns, the floating or drifting head, and the fist fighting scene. Fear is intensified by these images. The piano composition, functioning as the only sounds in this silent film, intensifies a feeling of “intense excitement”. The shots of the flying hats may clarify that actual ghosts are wearing them which also may intensify fear or shock the viewer because of the bizarreness that is being presented in the frames. The men eventually receive their hats back from “the ghosts” as they sit down to have tea for what it looks like could be breakfast. This is where Hans Richter might have titled this film Ghosts before Breakfast.
The opening scene of the film deals with time which is shown at the beginning and at the end of the film by use of a clock. This somewhat states to the viewer that the film was all time related, but contained associative logic due to the reappearing flying hat scenes. Both elements of time and rhythm are well preserved by the clock. At the end of the film the clock splits in half and each piece sweeps to their side of the frame to reveal the word “Ende”. It seems to show that not only did Richter want to shock the audience into a non-real world, but to also do it by rhythm and time. These elements would form a “fantasy trance” of curiosity causing the audience to want to see what is next. This was especially true in a time when film was new and he was demonstrating special effects. People were not used to slowed down time, speeded up time, and reverse time shown in moving images, not to mention the negatives that present a world of fantasy.
• 1929: Alles drecht sich, alles bewegt sich. Writer/Director
• 1929: Two Penny Magic. (Zweigroschenzauber). Writer/Director
• 1929: The Storming of La Sarraz. Director
• 1929: Race Symphony. (Rennsymphonie). Writer/Director
• 1929: Everyday. Writer/Director
• 1930: Neues Leben. Writer/Director
• 1931: Europa Radio. Writer/Director
• 1933: Hallo Everybody. Writer/Director
• 1934: The Champion of Pontresina (Der Springer von Pontresina). Writer/Director
• 1934: Keine Zeit für Tränen. Director
• 1936: Vom Blitz zum Fernsehbid. Writer/Director
• 1947: Dreams that Money Can Buy. Writer/Director
• 1957: 8 x 8: A chess Sonata in 8 Movements. Writer/Director
This rare, feature length, surreal film by Hans Richter features segments directed by and
starring Jean Cocteau, Jean Arp, Jaqueline Matisse, Yves Tanguy, Julien Lary, Richard
Hulsenback, Alexander Calder, William De Vogel, Dorothy and Max Ernst.
• 1961: Dadascope. Writer/Director
• 1969: Index Hans Richter. Writer/Director
• 1970: Germany Dada Film: A compilation.
• Early Avant-Garde. A compilation.
• Avant Garde Program: A compilation.
• Circus, by Alexander Calder, produced by Hans Richter.
Note: Hans Richter participated in numerous International Film Festivals or Film Shows in Museums and received many awards for his films