Berliner Hans Richter (1888-1976) was a pioneer of the avant garde cinema, a member of the Dada movement. He began playing with silent film as art expression in 1921, & it’s hard to imagine filmmakers like Luis Bunuel & Fritz Lang weren’t influenced by Richter, whose influence among Berlin & Paris avant gardists & surrealists of the ’20s is undeniable.
However, the claim that his first film was completed in 1921 may have been a fib concocted two or three years later, merely to fudge his dates a hair ahead of Walther Ruttmann’s Opus 1 (1922) as the first avant garde film experiment in Berlin, a point or possibility which art & film historians will likely always argue. Richter’s earliest experiments were hardly more than tests, Rhythm 21 (Film ist Rhythmus aka, Rhythmus 21, 1921) consisting of squares of lights growing or shrinking, pulsating white on black, implying a drum-beat without sound.
Rhythm 23 (Rhythmus 23, 1923) is an extension of the same film but with more angles & overlays added, & adding lines rather than adhering to the squares of the original. It looks so similar that the academic argument that both “21” & “23” were made in 1923 looks rather likely. Richter himself at some exhibitions showed these two together as a single film called Un film de Hans Richter. The hand-colored Rhythm 25 (Rhythmus 25, 1925) was the final “chapter,” but it does not survive.” (Text from http://www.weirdwildrealm.com)
Avant-garde short film.
Initial release: 1921 (Paris)
Director: Hans Richter