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An Optical Poem

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 29, 2015

An avant garde/out-and-out abstract film from MGM? It’s anomalous to the point of oxymoronic, but yes, that’s about right. Strange bedfellows, and a wonderfully productive union. The industrial gloss—the super-professional musical performance, the fidelity of the sound recording, the exactitude w’ which these bright coloured objects are fashioned & manipulated—of Oskar Fischinger’s standout production almost seems contrary to the spirit of independent, non or anti-commercial film, then or now. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the most basic might be that Conscience and Artistry just shouldn’t fraternize with Mammon.

But that’s kind of dumb, isn’t it? Businessmen, as well as the Corporations that they form, can so/do too love art, and act generously, and make the world more beautiful. Happens all the time, all over, quite repeatedly. Is there more to it? Certainly, but Conscience and Artistry aren’t altogether unblemished either, are they?

There’s a back story to this production, and more backstories that lead up to and away from it. It comprises not only Fischinger’s often frustrated efforts, but Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner, and lots more where those come from. Hollywood did and even does a lot of great things, greatly. It can also be a wasteland, and multiply. Still, there are films like this. Just delightful, and not incidentally a pretty great way to happily introduce your children/parents to the substance and pleasures of modern art.