“HANS RICHTER: Everything Turns – Everything Revolves”— Redefining Art

“HANS RICHTER: Everything Turns – Everything Revolves”

Redefining Art

Amos Lassen

Hans Richter was a Dadaist, a radical provocateur, a surrealist painter, a pioneering filmmaker and a visionary educator but above all else, he was a major force in redefining art in the 20th Century. However, he remains largely unknown and often misunderstood and undervalued. He made great contributions to creating a new social art that forever changed the act of self-expression. This film explores just that through taking us on a journey through the century as we see Richter’s struggles to establish film as a unique art form.

Richter collaborated with his many friends (including Marcel Duchamp, Sergei Eisenstein, Tristan Tzara, Mies Van Der Rohe and Hans Arp) and he was part of the leading edge of the European Avant Garde. He established film as an art form in the 1920s with his experimental films “Rhythmus 21” and “Ghosts Before Breakfast”. With these, he liberated film from the theatrical conventions of script and actors. After being forced out of Europe by the Nazis in 1941, Richter escaped to the U.S. Here he became a prophet of modernism and was followed by young American artist/filmmakers, who would become the New American Cinema movement.

Now 25 years after his death, Hans Richter remains misunderstood and undervalued for his contributions to creating a new social art that forever changed the act of self-expression. With this film, Dave Davidson hopes to change that.

Those who disagreed with Richter claimed that he was nothing more than a witness to history or even a person who used his friends’ good names to get ahead. Here we see him as a visionary who was committed to creating communal art that held social significance.

As a young man, he was at a creative mind who dared to rebel against the European aristocracy during World War I. During the years between the wars, Richter collaborated with luminaries such as Sergei Eisenstein and Mies van der Rohe while making his own seminal experimental films. His radical political ideas and passion for the Avant Garde caused him to be exiled from Germany and labeled as a ‘degenerate artist’ by the Nazis.

In 1940, just as he was to be arrested by police in Switzerland, Richter escaped Europe and came to New York with little money and a limited command of English. He soon was able to get a teaching position at the newly formed Institute of Film Techniques at The City College of New York. For the next 17 years, Richter became an influential figure to generations of American filmmakers. He made them aware of documentary, experimental and European films unlike anything they had ever seen. He became an inspiration to filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick who illustrate Richter’s lasting imprint. The film has captured Richter’s energy as a radical artist. He was at the epicenter of major art movements of the 20th Century and out of them, he strove to create a new social art.

The DVD contains the bonus shorts of “Rhythmus 21” (1921) and “Ghosts Before Breakfast” (1928).

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