July 20, 2008 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Flying derbys! Revolving revolvers! Ladders to nowhere! It's Hans Richter's wonderful Vormittagsspuk (or, Ghosts Before Breakfast), certainly one of the most playful and entertaining of all the Dada film experiments of the 1920s. Presented here with a nicely done soundtrack by Donald Sosin. .

Over at UbuWeb, you can see Vormittagsspuk with another soundtrack. Don't know where this soundtrack is from, and for me, it's not as much fun as the Donald Sosin soundtrack, but I thought I should include it here anyway.

Also, I happened upon this curious bit of film/music oddness, and this seems like a good place to link to it: "Psychedelic 1930s BING CROSBY video". Be sure to read the YouTube poster's description of the clip. Very unexpected little piece of film art there, and really quite lovely.
posted by flapjax at midnite (9 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The BING CROSBY video looks like it might have been made by rotating polarized light. If you put something like cellophane tape between two polarized sunglasses, and rotate one of them, you'll see something very much like that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:30 AM on July 20, 2008

The flying derbies in Vormittagsspuk remind me of the UFOs over Haiti (only the derbies are more convincing). Now, much as I like the Weimar Europeanness of it all, it is necessary to point out that much of this surreal humor and effects was already far surpassed by Hollywood by 1928. Keaton's Sherlock Jr. is only the most obvious example. Hal Roach had a series called Hairbreadth Harry that also partook of innovative visual effects humor (and was a kind of precursor to the Airplane, Naked Gun style of comedy). I think the derbies may be the most original thing here. Their gentle flight carries the film.
posted by Faze at 8:48 AM on July 20, 2008

posted by brevator at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2008

The Crosby clip is definitely not from "King of Jazz," as one YouTube commentator speculated. It does illustrate, however, that the wish to find a visual correlative to music didn't begin with MTV. It has given us Fantasia, and the abstract imagery that you can click on with iTunes. But what all these experiments show, is how incredibly meagre and uncool film is compared to music. The power of even this cheesy Bing Crosby song overwhelms the visuals -- which look dingy and dated. But Crosby's voice is not dated at all, and the song is as immediate and powerful as the day it was recorded. Music rules, there is no question about it. Film and video are just along for the ride.
posted by Faze at 8:56 AM on July 20, 2008

how incredibly meagre and uncool YouTube is compared to music.

If you were listening to your music compressed 200 to 1, and the film was projected as intended, then it would be a fair fight.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2008

Great find!

But ... I don't understand why the name of this film is translated as "Ghosts before Breakfast".

(from TFA):
The shots of the flying hats may clarify that actual ghosts are wearing them which also may intensify fear or shock the viewer because of the bizarreness that is being presented in the frames. The men eventually receive their hats back from "the ghosts" as they sit down to have tea for what it looks like could be breakfast. This is where Hans Richter might have titled this film Ghosts before Breakfast.

The opening scene of the film deals with time which is shown at the beginning and at the end of the film by use of a clock. This somewhat states to the viewer that the film was all time related, but contained associative logic due to the reappearing flying hat scenes. Both elements of time and rhythm are well preserved by the clock. At the end of the film the clock splits in half and each piece sweeps to their side of the frame to reveal the word "Ende".
The name in German is literally "before-midday-spook". This matches the time shown on the clock - at the end of the film, the ghosts/men are sitting down for a meal at 12, i.e. midday, so that's lunch, not breakfast.
posted by kcds at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2008

Haven't seen that in years. Thanks!
posted by Rykey at 1:09 PM on July 20, 2008


Why do the Nazis always gotta go and fuck things up?
posted by chillmost at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2008

Thanks for this, very enjoyable. I find myself wondering what the original sound track was like.
posted by Wolof at 8:59 PM on July 20, 2008

« Older Customize your disease and wipe out the population   |   Lifestyles of the Rich and Flavorless. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments