Herb Shellenberger

Early Animation
January 12, 2012
International House Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Program compiled by the MoMA Circulating Film Library, notes and introduction by Herb Shellenberger

This collection of early animation contains pioneer efforts, including animated cartoon series and other works by animation artists. In France, Emile Cohl was among the earliest animators. A Love Affair in Toyland used pencil drawings on white paper reversed into negative image. Leading American cartoon-strip artist Winsor McCay performed drawing acts in vaudeville, where he created material for Gertie the Dinosaur. McCay "talks" to his creation by way of titles, as he did in his stage act. Mutt and Jeff was one of the first animated series and in The Big Swim, Jeff tries to swim the English Channel. In Felix Gets the Can, Felix—hungry for salmon—ends up in Alaska. Otto Messmer was one of the first animators to use inner thoughts and physical movements to develop a character's personality, and his Felix is among the most original and well loved cartoon characters.

Three Disney films are also featured, including his earliest work produced for the Newman's Theater in Kansas City, MO. Disney himself appears, though there is not much true animation. Steamboat Willie, the first sound cartoon, is also the original appearance of Mickey Mouse on film. The Mad Dog shows a later evolution of Mickey with new character Pluto, who swallows soap and is taken for a rabid dog. In a film adaptation fo Bizet's opera Carmen, the program concludes with an example of the delicate silhouette animation of Lotte Reiniger.

A Love Affair in Toyland, Emile Cohl, 1908, France, 16mm, 4'
Gertie the Dinosaur, Winsor McCay, 1914, US, 16mm, 9'
The Big Swim, Dick Huemer, 1918, US, 16mm, 8'
Felix Gets the Can, Otto Messmer, 1924, US, 16mm, 9'
Newman's Laugh-o-Grams, Walt Disney, 1920, US, 16mm, 3'
Steamboat Willie, prod. Walt Disney, animation by Ub Iwerks, 1928, US, 16mm, 8'
The Mad Dog, prod. Walt Disney, animation by Ub Iwerks, 1932, US, 16mm, 7'
Carmen, Lotte Reiniger, 1933, Germany, 16mm, 10'