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Oskar Fischinger's work


Oskar Fischinger
Jules Engel Film-maker
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I knew Oskar [Fischinger] well. Oh no, no, we were friends. You see, I met Oskar at Disney, when nothing was going for him. And at that time I have some, maybe a half a dozen 8 x 10 inch, whatever I was doing. And he was so nice about it, he's, 'Oh, I must show it to so-and-so and so-and-so'. He was already running for me, you know, that he wants to more or less show my work to people. But Oskar was very, very, very special. Just a comment on Oskar, we used to... he wanted to go to see exhibits, you know? So, because we may know each other, and so-on. So he puts on his dark suit and his dark hat and his white shirt and we go out to the galleries on this particular days. And the interesting thing was, he wanted to go early because if he goes early, then he can go around in the gallery and say 'Shit, shit, shit, shit'. Oskar was deadly against anything that was not abstraction. I mean, just deadly set against it. And then so, as long as we were that early, you know, he could do this piece of athletics, you know, by saying that. And then he finally got through them, we'd just sit in a corner and watch the people, you know, come by and stuff like that. But he was so special because he never overwhelmed you and yet when he died, you know, then I understand he had 500 canvasses. You know how many 500 canvasses... how much that is? That's a helluva lot of canvasses that he painted. And I only saw him always what he was working on at the moment, you know? But he was a gentle person and apparently in Germany they have a place for his work, you know? So that's a good thing. But I just wanted to get on this way he was behaving when he... That's why he wanted to go that early because if there were other people there, he couldn't just say that. They might think there's something wrong with him. But he was a warm, friendly human being. And at that time, the missus only lived in the kitchen. From the kitchen to the dining table, and back to the kitchen. That was her life. And it was very interesting, you know, that eventually she became a real driver. And Bill [William] Moritz was driving all over Europe, you know, and taking her from place to place. And she kept pushing and moving. And she did a good job for Oskar, after it was all up to her. Yeah. And Bill was always there, Bill Moritz was very big on the scene because Bill really helped her function right in that world, you know? And also, what Oskar was… I think Oskar was... if he saw somebody do something like abstraction, like from my work, I mean he immediately took to that person because that was his world, you know? He didn't have a bad bone in his body or criticized you to destroy you, you know? No, no. Oskar was a real human being with a good heart.


The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Bill Moritz Tamara Tracz

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Europe, Germany, Disney, Oskar Fischinger, William Moritz

Duration: 3 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008