Fumes From The Fjords
The leading advertising filmmaker in Norway before WWII was Ottar Gladtvet. He made mostly live action films, but as an experimental cameraman, he used clever object animation and different stop-motion effects in many of his films. He also produced animated cartoons and cut-outs, but I'm quite sure he didn't make the drawings himself. Some of the Gladtvet films are perhaps animated by the pioneer Sverre Halvorsen, with whom Gladtvet collaborated on some animated shorts in the early 1920s. Some of the other films were made in collaboration with Ths.W.Schwartz, a filmmaker influenced by Viktor Bergdahl.
Gladtvet also collaborated with major animators outside of Norway. He made three films for Persil washing powder, in collaboration with Julius Pinschewer, and in 1927 he produced Fiinbeck har rømt (Jiggs Has Escaped.) The film, based on the characters from George McManus' comic strip Bringing up Father shows how the character's wife manages to bring Jiggs back home and keep him indoors by offering him the finest Tiedemann tobacco for his pipe. This film is very professionally done, and I'm quite sure that Viktor Bergdahl, who made advertising films in Stockholm at this time, is the animator behind it. I also believe that this film influenced other Norwegian animators in their work, since many of the following films were made in the same technique, but less professionally. It is possible that a Norwegian animator, like perhaps Schwartz, worked in Stockholm as an assistant to Bergdahl and brought this knowledge to Norway afterwards.
Kalifens hemmelighet (The Kalif's Secret ) was made in 1936 by Desider Gross in Prague, according to the censorship cards. It's a two and a half minute, classic black and white cartoon with excellent animation. Like The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Fantasia, it is based on Goethe's ballad "Der Zauberlehrling." Kalifens hemmelighet is a beautiful example of music and animation fulfilling each other. In the spot, the kalif is controlling the movements of cigarettes by playing his flute. After dancing for him, the cigarettes offer themselves to the kalif, who lights them and enjoys his smoke. The kalif's apprentice tries the flute while the kalif is away, and he looses control over the cigarettes. When the kalif gets his flute back and retains control, he realizes that he shouldn't keep the cigarettes just selfishly for himself, but share the joy with others.
The theme in the 1938 puppet film Et orientalsk kunststykke (An
Oriental Piece of Art ) made by Gasparcolor in Berlin, has several similarities with Kalifens hemmelighet. The way the Medina cigarettes are presented in the end of the two films, looks similar. Uniquely, Et orientalsk is a well-made puppet film where an oriental sorcerer is about to entertain a sultan. After several failures, he finally succeeds when he magically offers the sultan a Medina cigarette.
En sigarett - en Drøm (A Cigarette - A Dream, ) produced in 1938, is also produced by Gasparcolor, but in black and white. Itis a very elegant film with long, smooth camera movements over gracious ballet dancers in an oriental castle. Harp and piano are providing the music and the whole scene is wrapped in elegant live action cigarette smoke! The moral in the end of the spot says that if you smoke Medina cigarettes, you will have wonderful dreams, as shown in the film. To me, at least parts of this film look like they were made on a pinscreen, but the film is not registered as an Alexeieff commercial. En sigarett - en Dream also has close similarities to a 1933 German cigarette commercial called Schall und Rauch, which is credited to Hans Fischerkoesen. En sigarett - en Drøm is probably made by Fischerkoesen. Could then, Alexeieff have been involved?
The Fischerkoesen studio probably also made the 1938 commercial film, Sjakk Matt (Chess Mate, ) a fourth film credited to Gasparcolor. This is a funny cartoon in which the white players have lost a game of chess to the red, but the white king obtains new powers when he gets a taste of a Sorte Mand Cigar. Accompanied by a jolly song in Norwegian and helped by seducing cigar smoke, the white players take their sweet revenge.
Not credited to Gasparcolor but definitely made with the Gasparcolor process is the abstract 1936 film, En fargesymfoni i blätt (Color Symphony in Blue ). This is really a shortened version of Oskar Fischinger's Komposition in Blau from 1935. Some scenes from the original are missing, and the end has been re-done using the logo of the Medina cigarette in the animation. According to an article in a Norwegian trade journal, such abstract color commercials were quite common in Norwegian cinemas, but in 1938, such color experiments were "replaced by more easily understandable visuals with proper content."