A Brief History of Animation


Here are YouTube links to a quick summary of the history of animated film. The resolution of YouTube clips isn't always the best, but at least you'll be able to get a sense of the films in the comfort of your own home! Clips are sometimes removed from YouTube, so it's possible that some of these links may eventually stop working. If that happens, please let me know, and I'll try to come up with replacement links. Enjoy!


• very early animation: J. Stuart Blackton’s HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES (1906)

• metamorphosis: Emile Cohl’s FANTASMAGORIE (1908)

• puppet animation: Ladislaw Starewicz’s charming THE CAMERAMAN'S REVENGE (1912)

• Winsor McCay’s classic animated short, GERTIE THE DINOSAUR (1914)

• animation as documentary: McCay’s THE SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA (1918)

• years before Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney combined live action and animation in a series of "Alice in Cartoonland" films, including ALICE’S SPOOKY ADVENTURE (1924)

• contrary to popular opinion, audiences were first introduced to Mickey (and Minnie) Mouse in Disney’s PLANE CRAZY (1928), not in STEAMBOAT WILLIE

• Talkie and Mutie explain how sound technology works in Max Fleischer’s FINDING HIS VOICE (1929)

• Max and Dave Fleischer’s “Talkartoons” were Disney’s main competition in the 1930s; this one’s called SWING YOU SINNERS! (1930)

• Disney’s first full-color Silly Symphony, FLOWERS AND TREES (1932)

• animation directly onto clear film: Len Lye’s A COLOR BOX (1935)

• Hollywood’s titans make guest appearances in Disney’s MOTHER GOOSE GOES HOLLYWOOD (1938)

• stop-motion animation: Norman McLaren’s Oscar-winning NEIGHBORS (1952)

• silhouette animation: Lotte Reiniger’s CINDERELLA (1954)

• animation scratched into black leader: McLaren’s BLINKETY BLANK (1955)

NOW HEAR THIS (1962), a very strange cartoon by Chuck Jones, of Loony Tunes fame

• Czech puppet animation: Part 1 of Jiri Trnka’s THE HAND (1965)

• the Zagreb school: Dusan Vukotic’s SUROGAT (1963) was the first non-American film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Cartoon

• Mel Brooks’s first film, THE CRITIC (1963), was a cartoon!

• Canadian animator Ryan Larkin’s classic WALKING (1968)

• trippy animation in a scene from the Beatles’ YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968)

• there was something to offend just about everybody in Ralph Bakshi’s X-rated FRITZ THE CAT (1972)

• Oscar-winning clay animation: Gardiner and Vinton’s CLOSED MONDAYS (1974)

• a scene from Czech animator Jan Svankmajer’s ALICE (1988)

• computer-generated animation: Pixar’s GERI'S GAME (1997)

• collage animation: an excerpt from Frank and Caroline Mouris’ FRANKLY CAROLINE (1998)

• Rotoscoping: a scene from Richard Linklater’s WAKING LIFE (2001)

• a modern recreation of 1940s style at the beginning of French animator Sylvain Chomet’s THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE (2003)

• An Oscar-winning documentary about animator Ryan Larkin: Chris Landreth’s RYAN (2004)

• "wall painted" animation: Blu’s BIG BANG BIG BOOM (2011)


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