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This "trick movie" (as they are known) lasts for a minute & a half &
transpires much as the summary above describes: a man draws a face on a
large sheet of paper, then several objects (a bottle, a glass, a cigar, a
hat) which, thanks to stop motion, come to life as he reaches for them.
face itself changes when things are taken away or when they are returned.
The face itself is not animated, though this film is considered an early
example of the animated film.
The lightning-quick sketch artist in the film is James Stuart Blackton, who toured in vaudeville with his easel & amazed audiences with his quick drawings. He worked for Edison quite a while, for obvious reasons - a century later, the film is really, really cool, & the same stop motion that worked in TV shows like "Bewitched" always seems amazing.
But this one, even as early as it was made, has a charm that some shorts can't replicate. First of all, it's extremely well done; when Blackton grabs the bottle & glass, it's surprising. Second, Blackton himself is a showman, so his drawing & his interaction with it are done in an animated, entertaining way. & lastly, it's just fun: a drawing that gets mad when its bottle of wine is stolen, but becomes happy when it is fed the wine is just too cute & funny to find trite or dull.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
J. Stuart Blackton is an unsung pioneer in the history of animation possibly because many of his short film projects had techniques that have been improved time and time again. Having said that, The Enchanted Drawing in which he draws a face with a cigar, a glass, and a wine bottle and proceeds to take many of those objects off the drawing in split-time seamless editing has an old-fashioned charm that still resonates some 107 years later. And the various expressions of the drawn man's face whenever any of these objects are taken from him must have truly enchanted audiences of the day. With this and Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, Blackton deserves some recognition for contributing to the art of animation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the very earliest attempts at producing an animated
short, having been produced in 1900. And just how can I accurately rate
this film as it only lasts about 1 minute? Well, it's just guesswork
and considering the context for when it was made, it's an amazing film
and still watchable today.
A man walks in front of an easel. He draws a face as well as a bottle of wine and a glass. Then very seamlessly, he takes the wine bottle and glass off the paper and they become real and he drinks it. The face on the paper looks sad until he gives it a taste of the wine and a cigar--then the face becomes very happy. The artist is live and the drawings he makes seem magical and well-integrated into the film.
While Winsor McCay is often treated as the father of animated film, others like Emile Cohl (working for a studio, unlike McCay) and Stuart Blackton definitely were on the scene before. Their styles are all very different (especially Cohl's), but Blackton does wonderful things with the medium of animation, which are, in spirit, much the same as the animation films and episodes we come to know and love. My rating is not only for its inventiveness, but historical significance, as it belongs to a style, genre, and era that is often undertreated in film history (often getting a page or two mention in film history books). But thanks to the likes of John Canemaker and Donald Crafton, animation is increasingly well-canonized and game for consideration.
Enchanted Drawing, The (1900)
*** (out of 4)
Early attempt at animation is also another take on the work of Georges Melies. A cartoonist walks onto a stage with a large sheet of paper. He then begins to draw various items, which seems to come to life (this trick down with the editing). It's hard to be too hard on a film this early and running just over a minutes so I won't even try. This is a pretty fun little movie even with the various flaws. I found the cartoonist to be pretty entertaining and the drawings are quite nice. The "magic" tricks aren't that believable and are miles below the work of Melies but they're still mildly charming.
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