Novalis was the pen name of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, a poet, author, mystic, and philosopher of early German Romanticism. The poem here is When Geometric Diagrams and Digits from 1800, a year before his early death at the age of 28. In the original German, the poem is Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren.
The film-maker, Eric Edelman, based in New York, has titled the video, Novalis. On the surface it appears very simple, yet I find so much to explore, and to learn from it. More an art work in motion than a film in the traditional sense, the video distills the beauty of the Novalis poem, and the inspiration Edelman draws from its author, into a minimal series of iconic elements, with the poem appearing at the end.
Edelman is a prolific creator of original gifs under his RetroCollage moniker, and the video shows evidence of this. Its style and tone are both contemporary and retro. I find the animation in this video to be the best of the many I have seen from him, and the most emotionally expressive. This is enhanced by a soundtrack from 1791: the Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622, by Mozart.
The notes on the Vimeo page for the video reveal more about the diverse cultural influence of the work of Novalis:
Despite his short life and somewhat slender oeuvre, Novalis has since influenced many figures in Western culture, including Richard Wagner, Rudolph Steiner, Hermann Hesse, Walter Pater, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Jorge Luis Borges, and Stan Brakhage.
The most famous of his works are the unfinished novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen and the poetry in his Hymns to the Night. The Blue Flower, shown in this video, occurs in Heinrich von Ofterdingen as a symbol of human aspiration toward love and spiritual advancement; it became central to the German Romantic movement.
Edelman’s bio tells us he has been making collages, by hand and digitally, for more than 25 years. He scans images from wood engravings found in books and magazines dating from 1850 to 1920, then colourises, combines and alters them in photo-manipulation software. The resulting pieces are “a mix of Surrealism and psychedelia, by turns playful and solemn, simple and complex, straightforward and mysterious”.
He collaborates as part of The Typewriter Underground, led by poet Marc Zegans. One of Edelman’s videos for this fascinating project, A Clack in the Tunnel, has been previously shared by Dave Bonta here at Moving Poems. Exhibitions of Edelman’s work include the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center and the American Museum of Natural History.
It is concerned with not speaking out, keeping your feet still or actually biting the bullet and achieving inner freedom. And about how individual mental states influence the world.
A brief animation of a poem from Brecht’s A German War Primer by Andrea Malpede AKA Andrea Nocive, who notes in the Vimeo description:
I’ve always found Bertolt Brecht’s words strong and full of love.
In this animation I tried to give life to his powerful concept.
One of the two stand-out films, along with Die Angst des Wolfs vor dem Wolf, from Lab P‘s 2014 series, this stop-motion animation by Catalina Giraldo Vélez is based on a poem by German author and musician Marlen Pelny, who also supplied the voiceover and music. The Vimeo description reads:
Closing the window. Shutting up yourself. Observing your memories. Drawers open for storing of the memories, we are constantly looking for, removing or archiving again. We open a book that might be the book of our lives. The image in the image in the image in the image is a metaphor for memory and the nostalgia of forgotten times.
For more information about the film, see its webpage.
“Gaps in the fog allow a look inside: A foreign environment, observing trees and falling birds.” Melissa Harms (A.K.A. MelissaMariella) directs and animates a text by Ukrainian-German poet Yevgeniy Breyger in this film from the Lab P project’s 2014 series. (The films were kept off the web for a couple of years, which is why I’m only getting around to sharing them now.)
This stunning German poetry film from poet Stefan Petermann and director Juliane Jaschnow is the Film of the Month at Poetryfilmkanal, where it’s written up (in English) by Marc Neys AKA Swoon. He calls attention to
A poem that seems written for the film rather than the other way around. Unless they came together in the process of the making and collaboration, in which case they did a perfect job reinforcing each other ideas. The poem seems to struggle to comply with the imposed visual frame and rubs frantically against the borders of that frame. Like a caged animal looking for a way out. That struggle makes the poem stronger and gives it a strong sense of urge. A narrative poem full of imagination is visually retranslated in an original way.