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Hans Richter is a fimmakker I've often found myself fascinated with. I'm a huge mark for Dada, and absurdism in general, and hi s work helped lay the foundation for Dada, especially in the then-young field of film. Somehow, I had gone all my film-loving life without having experienced Ghosts After Breakfast.
The film is a combination of stop-motion and live action, with lots of mirror, masking, and negative effects. It's an effective use of optical printing, and the Nazi's declared it Degenerate Art, which is a stamp of approval.
One thing that hit me as an Art History type (have I mentioned lately that I used to work at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum?) is the use of flying bowler hats. René Magritte was rising in the Surrealist world at the time of the release of Ghosts Before Breakfast, and the bowler hat would feature prominently in his art of the 1930s onward (and there are hatted figures in his films of the late 1920s, but never used an an image of significance) and I am almost certain that Richter's use of the hat here echoes Magritte's - it is an object of absolute banality granted life and meaning by giving it the prominence of representation in the New Created Reality. In a sense, it is this banality that made both Dada and Surrealism so essential - when life is full of banal interactions and objects, it is the role of the artist to remove them from the pure role they fill and re-contextualize them, make them mysterious, magical, dangerous. In this, Richter is incredibly effective.
Klaus at Gunpoint
A Film Journal dedicated to all film.A segment of Office Supply Publishing.