Walter Ruttmann - Lichtspiel Opus 1,2,3,4 -The first abstract film screened publicly - 27 April 1921





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Published on Feb 9, 2013

Lichtspiel Opus I, produced, directed, animated and edited by Walter (Walther) Ruttmann for Ruttmann-Film GmbH; original music by Max Butting; original length: 243 m; original format: 35 mm, 1:1.33, hand-colored: censorship number: M.00789, 29 october 1921; previewed 1 April 1921 in Frankfurt, U.T im Schwan; premiere: 27 April 1921, Berlin Marmorhaus.

Walter (Walther) Ruttmann (28 December 1887 -- 15 July 1941) was a German film director and along with Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling and Oskar Fischinger was an early German practitioner of experimental film. Dadaist Hans Richter's Rhythmus 21 was the first abstract film (1921) but "Lichtspiel Opus I" of Walter Ruttmann was the first abstract animation to be screened publicly (1921).

Ruttmann was born in Frankfurt am Main; he studied architecture and painting and worked as a graphic designer. His film career began in the early 1920s. His first abstract short films, "Lichtspiel: Opus I" (1921) and "Opus II" (1923), were experiments with new forms of film expression, and the influence of these early abstract films can be seen in some of the early work of Oskar Fischinger. Ruttmann and his colleagues of the avant garde movement enriched the language of film as a medium with new form techniques. Ruttmann was a prominent exponent of both avant-garde art and music. His early abstractions played at the 1929 Baden-Baden Festival to international acclaim despite their being almost eight years old. Ruttmann licensed a Wax Slicing machine from Oskar Fischinger to create special effects for Lotte Reiniger. Together with Erwin Piscator, he worked on the experimental film Melodie der Welt (1929), though he is best remembered for Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, 1927). During the Nazi period he worked as an assistant to director Leni Riefenstahl on Triumph of the Will (1935). He died in Berlin.

Pure Cinema was influenced by such German "absolute" filmmakers as Hans Richter, Walter Ruttmann, and Viking Eggeling. Richter claimed that his 1921 film, Rhythmus 21, was the first abstract film ever created. This claim is not true (premiere Theatre Michel, Paris , 6 July 1923) : he was preceded by the Italian Futurists Bruno Corra and Arnaldo Ginna between 1911 and 1912 (as they report in the Futurist Manifesto of Cinema ), as well as by fellow German artist Walter Ruttmann who produced Lichtspiel Opus 1 in 1921.
Due to licence (copyright) problems regarding the dedicated music score (Max Butting (6 October 1888 in Berlin, German Empire -- 13 July 1976 in Berlin, East Germany) we use a new soundtrack .

Resources: wikipedia.org, archive.org
New soundtrack and dubbing: CinemaHistoryChannel
Music: Kevin Mac Leod (incompetch.com) licensed under Creative Commons licence: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0).


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