Animated movies have come a long way. Ever since the first animated movie that consisted of 700 hand-painted frames in 1888, a lot has changed. Especially in the last three decades. I’m going to take you on a time travel journey from that movie in 1888 to now. Also included: My favorite animated movies and some trivia.
Before animated movies came into our existence, there was a device called the zoetrope. The zoetrope was a cylinder that, when turned around, showed a frame-by-frame animation. The most well-known example of a zoetrope is a running horse. It was French scientist Charles-Emile Reynaud that created a device that took a strip of pictures to project on a screen. He painted images on a strip of transparent gelatine and ran it through his projection system. The oldest-surviving animated movie ever made is Pauvre Pierrot, which you can see on YouTube. In 1898, the first use of stop-motion animated was released. Unfortunately, The Humpty Dumpty Circus is presumed lost.
The beginning of the 20th century had a lot of ‘firsts’. It was in 1908 that Emile Cohl presented the first-ever movie made only of animated images. “America’s Greatest Cartoonist” Winsor McCay made the first animated movie with a character that had a personality. Everything about Gertie the Dinosaur was widely detailed for its time, with backgrounds and even natural breathing of the dinosaur.
The very first feature-length animated movie is unfortunately lost in a fire but it was an Argentinian film called El Apóstol from 1917. It was a 70-minute-long satire about President Hipólito Yrigoyen in an attempt to cleanse Buenos Aires of immortality and corruption.
The first colored cartoon, The Debut of Thomas Cat, was released in 1920. It was two years before most famous cartoonist Walt Disney made his debut with Little Red Riding Hood. That movie was thought to be lost until resurfaced in 1998. It was 1928 when Mickey Mouse first made his debut in the animated movie Steamboat Willie. It was Disney’s first cartoon with synchronized sound.
In 1931, the first feature-length animated movie with sound was released. This movie, however, is also considered lost. During the 1930s, a lot more of widely known animated movies were released. Betty Boop and Looney Tunes in 1930, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Walt Disney’s first full-length animated film and the first one to be of US origin) in 1937. Bugs Bunny made his debut in 1938 but the character was only named in 1941. Walt Disney was the first person to receive an Academy Award for an animated short in 1932 for Flowers and Trees.
The 1940s and 50s were considered to be Disney’s Golden Age of Hollywood Animations. Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, Dumbo in 1941, Bambi in 1942, Cinderella in 1950, Alice in Wonderland in 1951, Peter Pan two years later in 1953. Lady and the Tramp was released in 1955 and Sleeping Beauty in 1959. Pinocchio was the first animated feature film to receive an Oscar (Best Music Score and Best Original Song).
The second half of the 20th century was filled with animated movies, but not much great new discoveries as before. It wasn’t until 1982 when a groundbreaking new technology was used in animation. Tron was the first movie that used computer-generated images extensively. Pixar’s first short animated short, Luxo Jr., was released in 1986.
In 1991 Beauty and the Beast became the first feature-length, fully animated film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best picture. Only two other animated films have since then have had that honor (Up and Toy Story 3).
The 90s was the decade in which computer animation became a big thing. The first live-action film to feature photorealistic computer-animated creatures was Jurassic Park in 1993. 1995 was a whole new level of animation: The first fully computer-animated film was released. It was Toy Story which was amazing for its time. Because of the complexity of this, all characters had short hair as long hair was too difficult to animate back then.
This is the century in which a lot has changed. In 2001 Shrek won the first Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Since computer animation could do a lot more than just animating, the first instance of Computer Generated Imagery was used in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for Gollum. Andy Serkis moved and to his movement, Gollum was created.
We all know that Avatar is an amazing movie and was a groundbreaking movie 10 years ago. While photorealistic animation is normal now, with movies like The Lion King and Aladdin just released, it wasn’t back then. Avatar was the first movie to feature a fully computer-generated 3D photorealistic world.
It’s now pretty common to use CGI in films. 3D models are being made, people are captured and put onto a 3D model, exteriors are made with the use of CGI and green screens and such. While this may not be seen as animation, it surely came all the way from animation in 1888.
Favorite animated films
So now that I have told you all about the history of animated films, it’s now time to reveal my favorites regarding the story ánd the animation.
The Lion King
So yeah, if you have read my blog posts before, you probably know that I’m in love with The Lion King. It is not only my favorite animated film, but it is also one of my favorite movies overall! The use of color, the story, the songs: Everything is perfect about it.
Kubo and the Two Strings
This one is a widely underappreciated movie. I am used to watching animated films only by Disney, but just don’t forget the other ones. Kubo and the Two Strings was made by Laika Animation Studios, whom you might know from Corpse Bride or the new Missing Link. Just don’t forget these lesser-known films, this is one everybody should see.
Tangled is, and has been since the first time I watched it, a very enjoyable movie. I love the songs in it, I love Rapunzel, I love Rider and I love the story.
Spider-Man: The Multiverse
A Spider-Man movie that’s not live-action, not Disney but ís Sony and animated? While it might seem that we have had enough Spider-Man films, this surely is the most amazing of them all. It’s not only the story that had me in awe, but it’s also the animation. The film is filled with easter eggs, amazing graphics and a truly unique style of animation. The animation alone is enough reason to watch it ASAP!
Wall-E is a groundbreaking movie, it is definitely Pixar’s best film. The story is so well thought out with a very important message. Don’t let Earth get destroyed by humans, or we are going to be f*cked. Also, the fact that there’s hardly any dialogue makes it even better.
- Did you know that the first anime is thought to be from 1907?
- There have been 25 animated feature-length films that have been nominated for an Oscar but not in the Best Animated Feature category. Most of them were for sound/music, but there have also been nominations for Best Picture and Screenplay.
- Rango was Paramounts Oscar win in Best Animated Feature but Paramount didn’t even have an official animation department back then.
- Disney/Pixar won 12 out of 13 Oscars in the Best Animated Feature category. The 13th went to Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away in 2003. It is also the only non-English movie to win this Academy Award.
- Before this century, it was normal to have voice actors to voice animated characters, and if they sang, singers were hired. This changed as there are more ‘normal’ actors that voice act and sing.
That was this month’s Lets Talk blog post! Thanks for reading, I hope to see you again next post!
Take a look at the previous Let’s talk blog posts:
Let’s talk music
Let’s talk movie posters
Let’s talk books (and movies)
Let’s talk favorite characters
Let’s talk Pride Movies