From the Chicago Reader, April 20, 2001; minor adjustments made on January 10, 2010. And for some major corrections and more up-to-the-minute additions, see the letter from Cindy Keefer that I’ve added to the end of this piece. — J.R.
Music for the Eyes: Films by Oskar Fischinger
By Jonathan Rosenbaum
While I was living in Paris in my late 20s I used to dream of making a film — if someone were to hand me an outsize check and give me carte blanche, which of course I knew would never happen. I had a project in mind. I wanted to film all of my best friends dancing as uninhibitedly and joyfully as possible alongside the Seine, and then I wanted to devote the next several years of my life to synchronizing their movements to an up-tempo number by Ahmad Jamal’s piano trio. Jamal was unfashionable among jazz critics — even though Miles Davis delighted in his music — and that only made the project more seductive.
The notion of combining music I loved and people I loved was the key to this idle fantasy. Furthermore, Jamal’s music made me want to dance and conjured up moving images, and I wanted to synthesize these sensations.… Read more »