The Optical Poem Film By Oskar Fischinger

The film Optical Poem by Oskar Fischinger was made in 1938. It is an abstract short film that visualizes the “Hungarian Rhapsody” by Franz Liszt, synchronizing the movement of different shapes of paper cut-outs to the music. The Optical Poem is an example of the stop-motion animation, which became a popular technique in the present music video content. As such, such animation can be seen in the iconic Windows Media Player visualizer or in the popular game called Guitar Hero, where each note of the music is represented by one of the four moving circles that are connected to the buttons on the controller.

Such films could not be considered mainstream and are rather intended for the audience that is interested in experimental video art. Oskar Fischinger himself was an avant-garde producer, and his work was mainly shown before mainstream movies in theaters. In addition, abstract and avant-garde films were considered “degenerate” art by Nazis as such art was not representative (Moritz). This was one of the ways the film broke the mainstream convention imposed by the ideology.

Besides that, the film was free to interpret and did not have any plot or characters in it. This was another thing that contradicted with mainstream conventions of the film, which were mostly based around a story. Hence, the Optical Poem is an example of abstract art. In addition, the animation techniques used in the film were experimental and time-demanding as instead of heavier metal plates, Fischinger orchestrated synchronized movements of hundreds of paper cut-outs that are much harder to manipulate. Therefore, even within the avant-garde circles, the Optical Poem is a unique work that uses alternative production methods.

Work Cited

Moritz, William. Optical poetry: The life and work of Oskar Fischinger. Indiana University Press, 2004.