Mixing gravity and whimsy in equal measure, “Muratti and Sarotti” clarifies and generously samples the substantial contribution to the international development of animation by an unsung and largely forgotten group of German artists. Specialized yet fascinating docu is sure to draw interest across the board, with edutube outlets leading the charge.
Pic’s fully realized aim is to place artists both well-known and obscure in historical and cultural perspective. Narration explains how PR-inspired avant-garde work of the ’20s (title refers to cigarette and chocolate brands) gave way to the National Socialist–sparked exodus of the ’30s and subsequent influences abroad. Animation “under the swastika” took shape — motivated by scrutiny of a bootleg print of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Hitler’s favorite film — followed by postwar development of government-supervised work in the east and commercial concerns in the west. Design and execution are eye-catching, with Holger Jaquet’s sly animated bridging material blending with a novel, flip-book approach to talking-head interviews. Copious clips include work by Lotte Reiniger, Peter Sachs, Walther Ruttmann, Rudolf Pfenninger and Hans Fischinger, whose meticulous 1938-39 “Dance of Colors” is emblematic of the movement’s beauty and innovation.