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An Optical Poem (1937)

 -  Animation | Short | Music
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 203 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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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

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Animation | Short | Music

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(Technicolor)

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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

 
a touchstone in terms of animation, simply marvellous accompaniment to Lizst's music
14 February 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

What makes me chuckle about this short film is that MGM actually financed it! Who'd have thought that such attitudes were ever present at the big studios? The intertitle at the start calls the movie a "scientific experiment"*, gawd those guys were dumb. Anyway they let Fischinger get on with his business so I can't complain. The second time I watched it I really was dumbfounded by the MGM logo, for once, ars gratia artis actually meant something! Anyway the film is a visual accompaniment to Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no.2. Fischinger chose his music really well because there are lots of sea changes within the piece that allows him to do something totally different at the mood switches. He uses coloured paper circles and stop motion animation, to create a geometrical ballet. He must have done a lot of work because the movements are all very smooth. In fact it's really a masterpiece of technical craft and almost unbelievable how synchronised the animation is to the music.

It brought a big smile to my face and that's really rare.

* "To most of us, music suggests definite mental images of form and colour. 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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