Helmut Herbst

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Helmut Herbst (born December 2, 1934 in Escherhof , Rhineland) is a German filmmaker . Herbst, whose specialty is animation and experimental film, combines research into the technology, history and aesthetics of the medium of film in his films and texts.

life and work

After graduating from high school and studying art history (with Wolfgang Schöne ) / archeology and painting (with Willem Grimm ) in Hamburg, Helmut Herbst went to Paris in 1958/59 with a painting scholarship, where he regularly attended the Cinémathèque française . “I discovered the cinema in Paris”, the director recalls in retrospect ( Lit .: Conley et al., 1992). Through Klaus Wildenhahn , Herbst came into contact with the Panorama editorial team at NDR under Gert von Paczensky, and in 1961 began to shoot trick parts for the television magazine with a converted Ernemann wooden camera from the 1920s.

In 1962 he founded the company Cinegrafik , with which he produced animation parts for industrial films and television programs , but also his own animation films such as Little Instruction for a Happy Life (1962/63, in collaboration with the poet Peter Rühmkorf ), Black-White-Red (1963/64 ) or The Hat or Mondo uovo (1964). In the same year, the filmmaker Franz Winzentsen joined the company, which became a partner of Cinegrafik in 1970 .

Helmut Herbst, one of the defining personalities of the other cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, was one of the founding members of the Hamburg Filmmaker Cooperative in 1967 , which was intended as a kind of European variant of American underground cinema. From 1965 onwards, Herbst produced independent films by directors Marquard Bohm , Hellmuth Costard , Franz Winzentsen , Hartmut Bitomsky and Harun Farocki .

In the spring of 1969, Herbst began teaching film technology at the first German film school, the German Film and Television Academy (dffb) . After the documentary Germany DADA (1968/69), Herbst produced a series of films on the history of art in the 20th century: John Heartfield , Fotomonteur (1976/77) and Happening Kunst Protest - 1968 (1981) complemented each other to form a trilogy on this topic. The films Synthetic Film or How the Monster King Kong Was Generated by Fantasy & Precision (1974/75) and Living Photographs on a Running Belt - Guido Seeber (1979), about the pioneer of film tricks and camera technology, dealt with topics from film history. He also took part in the series produced by the Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation for ZDF on film montage Between the Pictures , where Werner Nekes , Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet , Alexander Kluge and Klaus Wyborny discuss their theory and practice of montage in the third part to represent.

When in 1979 a number of directors came from Munich for the film festival of films [sic!] With political and financial support from the Senate of the Hanseatic City and claimed they had to bring film culture to Hamburg, Herbst protested with other Hamburg filmmakers: "The Munich people" said Herbst in conversation with Patrick Conley and Karola Gramann and named Werner Herzog , Alexander Kluge and Wim Wenders , “wanted something completely different. The people of Munich wanted to take over German cinema. [...] And that's what they did. "

In 1979, Herbst finished his work at the dffb and went to the MONA University of The West Indies in Kingston , where he also worked for a television station. In 1981/82 Herbst realized the feature film A German Revolution based on Kasimir Edschmid's novel Georg Büchner - A German Revolution , and ten years later in a German-Hungarian co-production Die Serpentintänzerin / Szerpentintáncosnö , a film about the early days of cinematography.

In 1985 he became a professor at the HfG Offenbach , where he stayed until his retirement in 2000. After his retirement, Helmut Herbst lives with his wife Renate Merck in Brombachtal- Birkert (Odenwald).


  • 1958. Multiplane . Animation film
  • 1962/63. Small instruction for a happy life . Animation film
  • 1963. The great organizer . Animation film
  • 1963/64. Black-white-red . Animation film
  • 1964. Evenings when the moon is shining . Short film.
  • 1964. The hat or mondo uovo . Short film with trick parts.
  • 1965. Overcoming a loss . Animation film
  • 1966/67. So what ..? . Directed with Marquard Bohm . Short film.
  • 1968. Today we write the year 3090 . Animated film with real parts.
  • 1968/69. Germany DADA . documentary
  • 1970. A rainy night in Potsdam . Animated film with real parts.
  • 1970-1974. The fantastic world of Matthew Madson . 1977 new version.
  • 1974/75. Synthetic film or How the monster KING KONG was created by imagination and precision . Documentary.
  • 1976/77. John Heartfield - photo mechanic . Documentary animated film.
  • 1979. Three attempts on Anton von Webern's Opus 5, 5th movement . Short animation film.
  • 1979. Living photographs on a moving tape. Guido Seeber 1879–1940. Film pioneer, cameraman, film historian, technician . Documentary.
  • 1980-1982. Between the pictures. 3. About the inertia of perception . Direction with Klaus Feddermann. documentary
  • 1981. Happening. Art and Protest 1968 . Directed with Friedrich Heubach. Documentary.
  • 1981/82. A German revolution . motion pictures
  • 1982/83. Dappi film no 1 . Animation film
  • 1983. Seven simple phenomena . Animation film
  • 1984. The creak in the case . Animation film
  • 1988/89. The musical sacrifice . Short film. 1990 New version: Earlier when we were not yet postmodern
  • 1991/92. The serpentine dancer / Szerpentintáncosnö . motion pictures
  • 1997/99. The bride of heaven . motion pictures


  • Helmut Herbst: photo montage - film montage. Some notes . In: Eckard Siepmann (ed.): Montage: John Heartfield . Berlin (West): Elefanten Press 1977.
  • Helmut Herbst: Curiosity . In: The Wandering Image. The film pioneer Guido Seeber . Edited by the Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation. Berlin (West): Elefanten Press 1979.
  • Helmut Herbst, Henning Zick, Klaus Feddermann: The political situation could make me mad . Conversation. In: Filmfaust, No. 27, April / May 1982.
  • Helmut Herbst: More modern and more political than the Munich group . In: Ralph Eue, Jan Hendrik Gass (ed.): Provocation of Reality. The Oberhausen Manifesto and the Consequences , Munich: edition text + kritik 2012.
  • Hans-Michael Bock, Michael Töteberg: “... as an operative artist” . In: Eppendorfer Medienbrief, No. 6, April 1977. Interview with Helmut Herbst.
  • Arthur and Corinne Cantrill: An Interview with Helmut Herbst. Hamburg, Oct. 1983 . In: Cantrills Filmnotes, Melbourne, No. 11, 1984.
  • Patrick Conley, Karola Gramann: About the connection between political and aesthetic radicalism. A conversation with Helmut Herbst about the 1st Hamburg Film Show in 1968 . In: paint pictures, paint films. Frankfurt: Filmbüro Hessen, 1992. pp. 5-10. ( Online version )
  • Watch the light at work. Helmut Herbst photographs friends and colleagues from 1964–1990. Catalog for the exhibition of the same name at the Filmmuseum Berlin , December 3 to January 16, 2004.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Between the pictures. 3. About the inertia of perception. In: filmportal.de . German Film Institute , accessed on June 2, 2020 .
  2. Paint pictures, paint films. The 1st Hamburg film show from 1968 . Materials zsgest. by Patrick Conley, Bettina Engels and Karola Gramann. Frankfurt: Filmbüro Hessen, 1992. pp. 5-10. Online version: About the connection between political and aesthetic radicalism. Retrieved June 2, 2020