Hans Richter  

Hans Richter was a member of the Dada movement and practically the first avant-garde and abstract film-maker in the beginning of the 1920s. Dadaists were anti-artists that formed as a group in reaction to colonialism and war, blaming the bourgeoisie and traditional reason, culture and aesthetics. Dada set out as a movement to subvert, offend and revolutionize thought, taste and sensibilities. Art and movies were deliberately chaotic, meaningless, and offensive but at the same time constructed in a provocative way. It is an anti-art movement in the sense of subversion of traditions and conventional taste, and it launched several related, mostly non-political art-forms such as Surrealism (see Buñuel) and the counter-culture.

Richter started with several shorts experimenting with rhythmical shapes, contrasts, shadows and perspectives. He then used frantic and energetic montages of imagery to attack Inflation, and to portray or document things like horse races, commercials, film-making, circuses and London in humorous, cheeky and provocative ways. His final works were full-length experiments and collaborations with like-minded artists. One of Richter's best cinematic qualities is his great sense of humor. Died in 1976.


Ghosts Before Breakfast  
Flying hats, frustrating collars that twist and turn away from the wearer, a man who tries to shoot a flying head, people that disappear into a lamp-post, revolving objects, men with disappearing beards vs. women's hair, clockwork crawling, and much more. Dada at its funniest in a 9-minute unusual short even for Richter.

Of Some Interest

Free-form association between images with disorienting and juxtaposed sound and all the standard themes of the Dada movement such as games of chances, dice, word-games, etc. From blooming flowers to explosions, an eye on a metronome, games with shadows and light, circles, checkered squares, puns, Letterist poems made with noise and sounds, billiards and balloons, nonsensical pseudo-scientific narration accompanied by freely associated images, strange statues, a man in a bull costume, a man in a washing machine, etc, etc. This is chaotic Dada become dull, pretentious creed instead of a lively anti-art-form. A tired manifesto; A lecture for Dadaists.

Dreams That Money Can Buy  
A surrealistic collaboration between Richter, Man Ray, Duchamp and others containing 7 dreams and some funny psychological insights. A man discovers that he can look into people's eyes and see and evoke their dreams. He opens a dream agency that caters to people with problems, awakening their soul, ambitions and peace of mind with their own dreams. A pedantic hen-pecked accountant gets a surreal dream involving rescuing a woman in a bed, a floating ball which she swallows, and dragging her through a labyrinth. A repressed woman gets a romantic fantasy with mannequins, a bitter, difficult woman gets a strange one where young people copy the gestures they see in a movie, a hardened criminal gets playful juxtapositions of rotating spirals and curves with naked women, a girl playing with a ball sees various floating objects and their shadows, a blind old man with a wire sees animated wire-puppets, and the dream dealer discovers himself through a Dadaistic game of colors and chance. People's thoughts and dialogue are provided with (somewhat clumsy) voice-overs. The dreams vary widely in interest, but the overall package is entertaining, interesting and amusing.

8 X 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements  
A chaotic series of Dadaistic, Surrealistic and symbolic scenes involving the theme of chess in one way or another. Men play chess with fixed rules until the human chess table gets up and shakes off the players, a medieval queen, king, knight, pawn etc. court, play games, shoot arrows into each other, some absurdist scenes of Calder and his sculptures and objects moving backwards, a woman creates her dream-man from a doll and controls his chess game as if he were a puppet, a man tries to play chess with a coat-hanger chess-piece while distracted by mice and a naked woman, dancing on checkered pavements, things happening in reverse, an underwater living room, and more. Not really a proper movie, but a collection of visual shorts of very varying interest and style, often with obnoxiously clownish music in the background.

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