theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Originally posted on A R T L▼R K.
On the 17th of August 1908, Fantasmagorie, the first fully animated feature film was released in Paris by the Gaumont company. Created by Emile Cohl, Fantasmagorie is considered one of the masterpieces of animated cinema and of early cinema as a whole. Done in a white-on-black style, reminiscent of a film negative, the film broke with the realist tradition emerging in live action at the time. It was much more stylized and fantastic, in some ways anticipating the surrealist movement of later decades. “Fantasmagorie is a brief line animation in which a mysterious puppet, Pierrot or fantoche, and his environment change seamlessly. Flowers become bottles become a cannon; an elephant becomes a house; Pierrot becomes a bubble, a hat, a valise.” (Chris Gehman, Steve Reinke, The Sharpest Point: Animation at the End of Cinema). There is no distinctive narrative to the successive images. Therefore, it is believed that Fantasmagorie is in a way a tribute to the short-lived French Incoherent art movement.
The film was very short; its projection time was less than two minutes. Yet, the amount of work Cohl had to put in it was enormous, and the final effect – astonishing. “Fantasmagorie was the single most demanding task that Cohl had ever attempted as an artist. First he had made a drawing on white paper with black ink. Then he traced that drawing through a second sheet, changing nothing in the outline except for a minute alteration that would be perceived later as motion. Eventually hundreds of drawings were completed in this manner, then photographed in sequences. The result was…
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