Absolute film

Absolute film is an experimental film movement that was popularized by a group of artists in Germany in the 1920s: Hans Richter, Walter Ruttmann, Oskar Fischinger and the Swede Viking Eggeling.

These artists present different approaches to abstraction-in-motion: as an analogue to music, or as the creation of an absolute language of form, a desire common to early abstract art. Ruttmann wrote of his film work as "painting in time". [1] They used rudimentary handicraft, techniques, and language in their short motion pictures that refuted the reproduction of the natural world, instead, focusing on light and form in the dimension of time, impossible to represent in static visual arts.

In 1926, Hans Richter stated that the absolute film originated in the scroll sketches that Viking Eggeling made in 1917–1918.[2]

Four frames from "Diagonal-Symphonie"


Absolute film was shaped by early 20th century art movements such as Cubism, Expressionism, Dadaism, Suprematism, Futurism, and possible others.[3] These art movements were beginning to gain momentum in the 1910's. Many authors have described abstract film as visual paintings because of their resemblance to art.[4] It wasn't until the 1920's that abstract artists began connecting art with cinema and created the Absolute Film movement. Absolute film pioneers sought to create short length and breathtaking films that used elements such as art, film, movement, and music. [5] Some of the earliest and most influential absolute films include the Opus series (1921–1925) by Walter Ruttmann, and the Rhythmus series (1921–1925) by Hans Richter.[6]

Musical Influence

Music was an extremely influential aspects of absolute film and Other than art, one of the biggest elements used by Abstract Film directors. Absolute film directors are known to use musical elements such as rhythm/tempo, dynamics, and fluidity.[7] These directors sought to use this to add a sense of motion and harmony to the images in their films that was new to cinema, and was intended to leave audiences in awe.[8] In her article "Visual Music" Maura McDonnell even compared these film's to musical compositions due to their careful articulation of timing and dynamics.[9]



See also


  1. ^ "C Keefer - Space Light Art excerpt". www.centerforvisualmusic.org.
  2. ^ G: Zeitschrift für elementare Gestaltung, nr 5-6, 1926, p.5. English reprint edition edited by Detlef Mertins & Michael W. Jennings; Translated by Steven Lindberg & Margareta Ingrid Christian; Tate Publishing, 2010.
  3. ^ "The Avant-Garde Cinema of the 1920s: Connections to Futurism, Precisionism, and Suprematism". Leonardo. 17 (2): 108–112. Jan 14, 1984 – via Project MUSE.
  4. ^ "Avant-Garde Film". BRILL. 1 January 2007 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Moritz-Absolute Films of the 1920s". www.centerforvisualmusic.org.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Rogowski, Christian (15 December 2018). "The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema: Rediscovering Germany's Filmic Legacy". Camden House – via Google Books.
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ McDonnell, Maura. "CEC — eContact! 15.4 — Visual Music by Maura McDonnell". CEC - Canadian Electroacoustic Community.
  10. ^ "CVM-Moritz-AbsoluteFilm". www.centerforvisualmusic.org.


  • James, David, The Most Typical Avant-Garde [UC Press]
  • Malcolm Le Grice, Abstract Film and Beyond. [MIT Press, 1981]
  • William Moritz, Optical Poetry. [Indiana University Press, 2004]
  • Sitney, P. Adams, Visionary Film [Oxford University Press, 2002]
  • William Wees, Light Moving in Time. [University of California Press, 1992]
  • Bassan, Raphaël, Cinema and abstraction : from Bruno Corra to Hugo Verlinde Senses of Cinema, No. 61, December 2011
Abstract animation

Abstract film is a subgenre of experimental film. Its history often overlaps with the concerns and history of visual music. Some of the earliest abstract motion pictures known to survive are those produced by a group of German artists working in the early 1920s, a movement referred to as Absolute Film: Walter Ruttmann, Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, vincent and Oskar Fischinger. These artists present different approaches to abstraction-in-motion: as an analogue to music, or as the creation of an absolute language of form, a desire common to early abstract art. Ruttmann wrote of his film work as 'painting in time.' Walt Disney used abstract animation for his film Fantasia during the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor segment.

Abstract films are non-narrative visual/sound experiences with no story and no acting. They rely on the unique qualities of motion, rhythm, light and composition inherent in the technical medium of cinema to create emotional experiences.

Arnulf Rainer (film)

Arnulf Rainer is a 1960 Austrian experimental short film by Peter Kubelka. It is one of the earliest flicker films. The film alternates between light or the absence of light and sound or the absence of sound. Since its May 1960 premiere in Vienna, Arnulf Rainer has become known as a fundamental work for structural film. Kubelka released a "negative" version, titled Antiphon, in 2012.

Cinéma pur

Cinéma Pur (French for "Pure Cinema") was an avant-garde film movement begun by filmmakers, like René Clair, who "wanted to return the medium to its elemental origins" of "vision and movement."

History of animation

The history of animation started long before the development of cinematography. Humans have probably attempted to depict motion as far back as the paleolithic period. Shadow play and the magic lantern offered popular shows with projected images on a screen, moving as the result of manipulation by hand and/or some minor mechanics. In 1833 the phenakistiscope introduced the stroboscopic principles of modern animation, and would also provide the basis for cinematography.

Inferno (1980 film)

Inferno is a 1980 Italian supernatural horror film written and directed by Dario Argento. The film stars Irene Miracle, Leigh McCloskey, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi and Alida Valli. The cinematography was by Romano Albani, and Keith Emerson composed the film's musical score. The plot follows a young man's investigation into the disappearance of his sister, who had been living in a New York City apartment building that also served as a home for a powerful, centuries-old witch.

A thematic sequel to Suspiria (1977), the film is the second part of Argento's Three Mothers trilogy. The long-delayed concluding entry, The Mother of Tears, was released in 2007. All three films are partially derived from the concept of "Our Ladies of Sorrow" (Mater Lachrymarum, Mater Suspiriorum and Mater Tenebrarum) originally devised by Thomas de Quincey in his book Suspiria de Profundis (1845).

Unlike Suspiria, Inferno received a very limited theatrical release and the film was unable to match the box office success of its predecessor. While initial critical response was mostly negative, its reputation has improved considerably over the years. Kim Newman has called it "perhaps the most underrated horror movie of the 1980s." In 2005, the magazine Total Film named Inferno one of the 50 greatest horror films of all time.

Menno ter Braak

Menno ter Braak (26 January 1902 – 14 May 1940) was a Dutch modernist author.

Opus IV (film)

Opus IV (film) is an absolute film directed by Walter Ruttmann. The film was released in 1925, and is approximately 3m 55s in length.The movie is the final installment in the “Lichtspiel” (German for “light show”). The Opus films are famous for using geometric shapes, basic lines, and abstraction to create optical images, then taking the optical art, along with rhythm and editing, to imply movement. Along with the Film Ist Rhythm series, the Lichtspiel film series is one of the earliest examples of absolute film. Those films contain a stronger resemblance to paintings than their other Absolute counterparts.

Oskar Fischinger

Oskar Wilhelm Fischinger (22 June 1900 – 31 January 1967) was a German-American abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter, notable for creating abstract musical animation many decades before the appearance of computer graphics and music videos. He created special effects for Fritz Lang's 1929 Woman in the Moon, one of the first sci-fi rocket movies, and influenced Disney's Fantasia. He made over 50 short films and painted around 800 canvases, many of which are in museums, galleries, and collections worldwide. Among his film works is Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), which is now listed on the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Outline of film

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to film:

Film – refers to motion pictures as individual projects and to the field in general. The name came from the fact that photographic film (also called filmstock) has historically been the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures.


Polydioctylfluorene (PFO) is an organic compound, a polymer of 9,9-dioctylfluorene, with formula (C13H6(C8H17)2)n. It is an electroluminescent conductive polymer that characteristically emits blue light. Like other polyfluorene polymers, it has been studied as a possible material for light-emitting diodes

Rhythmus 21

Rhythmus 21 is an absolute film movie directed by Hans Richter. Rhythmus 21 was released in 1921 in black and white, and spans for approximately 3 minutes. The film is the first installment of Richter's Film Ist Rhythm series and is considered, by experts, an early and influential film to the abstract film movement. Many absolute films were described as a mixture of art, film, and music because they present on the screen many musical elements such as dynamics, rhythm, and motion. The films in this series get their name from their visual rhythmic element that closely resembles music.

The Hart of London

The Hart of London is a 1970 experimental Canadian film directed by Jack Chambers. Stan Brakhage proclaimed it as "one of the greatest films ever made". The film is shown in black and white and colour, and includes found news footage from 1954, film shot by the artist years earlier in Spain, and film shot by the artist in London, Ontario.

The film is preoccupied with the tensions between nature and the city of London: "It explores life and death, the sense of place and personal displacement, and the intricate aesthetics of representation. It is a personal and spiritual film, marked inevitably by Chambers's knowledge that he had leukemia.

Viking Eggeling

Viking Eggeling (21 October 1880, Lund – 19 May 1925, Berlin) was a Swedish avant-garde artist and filmmaker connected to dadaism, Constructivism and abstract art and was one of the pioneers in absolute film and visual music. His 1924 film Diagonal-Symphonie is one of the seminal abstract films in the history of experimental cinema.

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