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An Optical Poem (1937)

 |  Animation, Short, Music
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 223 users  
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A dance of shapes. A title card tells us this is an experiment in conveying the mental images of music in a visual form. Liszt's "Second Hungarian Rhapsody" is the music. The shapes, all ... See full summary »

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Title: An Optical Poem (1937)

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Director: Ralph Steiner
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Storyline

A dance of shapes. A title card tells us this is an experiment in conveying the mental images of music in a visual form. Liszt's "Second Hungarian Rhapsody" is the music. The shapes, all two-dimensional, are circles primarily, with some squares and rectangles, and a few triangles. The shapes move rhythmically to the music: receding from view or moving across the screen. Red circles on a blue background; light blue squares; white rectangles. Then, a red background of many circles with a few in the foreground. Red gives way to blue then to white. Shapes reappear as Liszt's themes re-occur. Then, with a few staccato notes and images, it's over. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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geometric form | See All (1) »

Genres:

Animation | Short | Music

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1.37 : 1
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Prologue (Title): To most of us, music suggests definite mental images of form and color. The picture you are about to see is a novel scientific experiment. Its object is to convey these mental images in visual form.
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Soundtracks

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
Music by Franz Liszt
Played throughout the entire picture
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User Reviews

 
At least 30 years ahead of its time
16 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Just about anyone who's ever made a music video — especially an abstract one — owes a debt of gratitude to Oskar Fischinger. This short film is a charming rendition of Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody set to a dazzling series of colored dots, lines, flashes and vivid visual effects that often look like a Piet Mondrian painting come to life. Paul Marquardt's often cheeky orchestration — far different from the one usually heard — adds a quite inventive series of tonal effects to the film that only underscores the rambunctious appeal of Fischinger's animation. I remember seeing films like this from the 1960's and not realizing anyone had done anything this imaginative with the same format thirty years earlier — and I can't for the life of me imagine what unsuspecting moviegoers who caught this in 1937 on a program headlined by an MGM feature of the period made of it!


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