Saturday, June 10, 2017

Weatherbeaten Melody

Hans Fischerkoesen was sometimes called "Germany's Disney," but he's not too well known in the USA, even among aficionados of classic animation. His most notable film is called "Weatherbeaten Melody" (Verwitterte Melodie), (Link to YouTube)

The story is about with a bee in the meadow who uses his (or her?) stinger to play an abandoned record player. It an enchanting bit of magic, with the bugs helping each other and dancing together.

Compared to what Disney and Fleischer were doing, it's very sophisticated technically, with animation methods that are different from anything I've seen before. It starts with an incredible vertical move to a multi-plane push-in. Then there's a full 3D rotation around the record player.

Following Weatherbeaten Melody was The Snowman (link to YouTube) 1943

Says one writeup I found, 
"Fischerkoesen and his team were not only inspired by Disney, but also by "Fleischers' Stereo-Optical process (which combined model sets with cel animation) or Disney's multiplane camera (which filmed several layers of cels). Fischerkoesen had already been using a simple multiplane effect derived from the multilayered glass animations that Lotte Reiniger used in the 1926 animated feature Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926). 
The timing of animation seems to be modeled on rotoscope, and the sense of movement and character design is quite different from American stuff.

The films, unfortunately, came from Nazi Germany, and Fischerkoesen was promoted by Goebbels. I only mention that at the end of this post so as not to influence your reaction to the films upfront. Some people have read political overtones into the films, (such as the idea that he was being daring by having the phonograph play banned jazz music). But the films struck me as innocent in the best sense, that is, surprisingly free from propaganda, at a time when many other animators around the world were doing politically-driven films.

Fischerkoesen's son said: "My father was completely apolitical. After the war, he never spoke about the time again."


Rich Polinski said...


Roelof Venter said...

WTF??? That perspective is friggin' AMAZING! Right from the elements that make up the hornet's body to the rings on the last segment. That rotation around the record player looks like it may have been done digitally! Fucking amazing.

Philipp said...

Hey James,

thats pretty amazing.

Since I am from Germany I became wary about the film and the time when it was produced.
But as you say, I couldn't find a hint to the ideology of the Third Reich.

The vocals of the songs are about the joys of a holiday. Nobody has to go to the office and so on.
"At sunday the world first becomes beautiful, when we are walking through the meadows..."

Thank you for this! Greetings

SStipick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SStipick said...

It's funny, that the concepts used in the 90's and early 2000's where digital 3D sets painted over ( I remember seeing Dusney's Tarazan for the first time and was blown away by the vine surfing scenes ) were incorporated into animation, and even though the are a higher fidelity (thanks to modern technology) and had to be reinvented decades later the effect in the modern pieces is about equal to these incredible pieces of old. Of course that's a highly subjective opinion and I might argue the earlier pieces are far more impressive considering the time period. Another highly subjective opinion.

Like many great works of art, whether the grand architecture or paintings of antiquity (Taylor and Pagdon you may take a drink... inside joke sorry) or the moving pictures of today. Somebody somewhere had an idea without the modern technological conveniences of today and figured out a way to make it happen. So Davincis flying machines were indeed plausible and the Egyptians could move and assemble stones of unimaginable scale. Human ingenuity, always a great inspiration.

Susan Krzywicki said...

Botanically, this is a great piece. The artists must have been conversant with real plants, because just about every flower form, from simple to compound, and every leaf form are represented. Morning glories, lilies, etc. It is a complex world the artists built. The background wasn't not just reduced to green stuff with a daisy. They are all so rhythmical, too.

When that sweet bee gets going, she is just adorable. All of the anthropomorphisms are so cute...

Thanks for sharing.