French Animation from 99 Years Ago

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 14, 2007 in Animation |

In honor of Bastille Day today I thought that I’d show off some classic French animation. Shown above is one of the first animated films ever made, it’s called Fantasmagorie and was animated by Émile Cohl in 1908. It’s sort of amazing for me to think that in just a year this film will be acentury old, it sounds like a long time but in the scheme of art history that makes animation a rather new medium.

To make this film, Cohl placed each drawing on an illuminated glass plate and then traced the next drawing-with variations-on top of it until he had some 700 drawings. In 1908, chalkboard caricaturists were common vaudeville attractions and the characters in the film look as though they’ve been drawn on a chalkboard, but it’s an illusion. By filming black lines on paper and then printing in negative Cohl makes his animations appear to be chalk drawings.

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