While most of directors who stayed in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s were working with the Nazi State and doing propaganda films, like Triumph of the Will, there are also few examples of those that were subverting those rules with intelligence. That is the case of Hans Fischerkoesen, also known as Hans Fischerkösen.
Fischerkoesen started working with advertising films, something he seemed perfectly suited to. After all he had an irrepressible sense of humor, a good sense of rhythm, and a charming, flexible cartoon style. During the war years he realised three amazing animations: Verwitterte Melodie (Weather-beaten Melody) in 1942, Der Schneemann (The Snowman) in 1943 and Das Dumme Gänslein (The Silly Goose) in 1944.
My first contact with his wonderful animations was through Weather-beaten Melody: it was love at first sight. It’s a cheerful animation with amazing graphics in a time when there were no computers to render them. It’s almost a fable who tell us to enjoy the life. William Moritz wrote a brilliant essay about Fischerkoesen: Resistance And Subversion in Animated Films of The Nazi Era: The Case of Hans Fischerkoesen. Part of it it’s available at Animation World Network. An example of why I’m suggesting this reading for any one interest in animation and film history:
The opening sequence of Weather-beaten Melody (1942), his first film made under the government edict, demonstrates a bravura mastery of both the multiplane and stereo-optical processes–and a meaningful use of depth, following the flight of a bee down from the sky, through 12 layers of grass and flowers in a meadow, and circling around an abandoned phonograph which lies, puzzlingly for the bee, in the middle of the meadow. Behind this long point of view sequence is the assumption that the bee is a personage worthy of following, and in fact she turns out to be adventurous, resourceful, perceptive, talented, witty, and friendly, among other admirable, even noble “human” characteristics.
That is just a small part of a deep analysis of the three animations cited above. For better enjoying the essay, first, watch the animations on-line. They and some of Fischerkoesen’s commercials are available on my video blog Videos with Bibi on the following posts: Hans Fischerkoesen’s animations and Hans Fischerkoesen Vintage Ads. If you prefer, watch one by one with this list:
– Schall und Rauch (1933): watch it here. (2 min)
– Das Blaue Wunder (1935): watch it here. (3 min)
– Waardige vertegenwoordiging, also known as How the Light Came Anyway When the Sun Overslept, Vaerdig Repräsentation or Hvordan det likevel ble lyst da solen forsov seg, (1937): watch it here. (5 min)
– Scherzo – Verwitterte Melodie, also knwon as Weatherbeaten Melody (1943): watch it here. (10 min)
– Der Schneemann, also knwon as Snowman in July, The Magic Snowman or The Snowman (1943): watch it bellow or here. (13 min)
– Das Dumme Gänslein, also known as The Silly Goose (1944): watch it here. (13 min)
– Fischerkoesen Adverts – a collection of vintage German advertising films: watch it here. (69 min)
PS.: The last video with the advertising films has a strange problem with the audio, so, try it without the audio or watch just a selection of them saved in this playlist.