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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating early animation

Author: Robert Reynolds ( from Tucson AZ
30 December 2002

From the vantage point of 96 years later, this is, comparatively speaking, rather simplistic and quite limited in contrast to work done today. But, also comparatively speaking, so would a certain single engine airplane seen at Kitty Hawk 99 years ago in contrast to a Lear Jet. There's more wit and imagination in any 90 seconds of this short than can be found in 60-90 minutes of some of the animated features I've seen in the last few years. Viewed in context and realizing its age and the circumstances of its creation, you begin to realize just how remarkable and notable this piece of work truly is and that it truly is magic. A very early step, if not the first step, on the path that gave us Felix the Cat, Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry and countless others. Each generation builds on what comes before. But, of necessity, there must be that first layer and the strength of that foundation is key to the growth of the medium. Work like this must be remembered and appreciated. In a world where the past is increasingly no earlier than breakfast today for all too many people (not that past generations have been all that much better), works like this need to be spotlighted and preserved for the future to benefit from. Well worth watching. Recommended, particularly to animators or fans of animation.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Early special-effect animation

Author: rbverhoef ( from The Hague, Netherlands
3 August 2006

I was amazed by 'Humorous Phases of Funny Faces', a short film that combines animation with live-action, although the live action part is only a visible hand drawing the animations. The hand belongs to J. Stuart Blackton, both animator and director of this little film.

On screen we see a chalkboard where a hand draws a man. Next to him a woman appears in the same style, but now the hand is not drawing it. Then the man changes his face numerous time, or actually I should say, the animator does. This part ends with the man smoking his pipe, covering the woman in a lot of smoke (or chalk). After this Blackton throws in some experimental little things: figures slowly erased from the chalk board, a moving clown and his dog, the live-action hand who wipes out the clown, but not before he has put his hat back on his head.

Highly enjoyable and an important film in the process of animation, this one should not be missed!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Only of minor interest today, but historically interesting

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
7 September 2006

This film is highly reminiscent of some of the films by Georges Méliès because of the film's extensive use of trick cinematography--an art perfected by Méliès before the director of this film got his start. In fact, the Méliès short THE UNTAMABLE WHISKERS (1904) is an awful lot like this film except instead of just having cartoons come to life due to stop-motion, this earlier film features Georges Méliès himself interacting with the drawings. Both are pretty antiquated by today's standards, but because they are short and pretty creative, they are also both very watchable. This J. Stuart Blackton film isn't quite as good or innovative, but this shouldn't stop you from giving it a look on google video.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A piece of animated movie history.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
27 December 2006

This is an historically little classic from early movie-maker J. Stuart Blackton.

It's always interesting to watch a movie that is over- or near 100 years old. Movie-making obviously was still a profession yet in development which let to some many experimental little productions. This movie is one of those early experimental movies, that for one of the first times ever shows us a couple of fully moving animated characters, that also interact with each other.

Of course nothing really happens in this movie. It's just merely used as a medium to show off the skills- and possibilities of this new genre. The movie features a couple of animated persons that get drawn by J. Stuart Blackton himself. The characters interact simply to each other. It doesn't make this movie very entertaining to watch, although the bit with the dog and clown was pretty amusingly done.

The animations themselves are good and the speed is more than great. All of the movements feel right and natural. A real big accomplishment.

It's hard to rate a thing like this. It obviously is a little piece of early movie history and is simply a must-see because its widely regarded as the first ever animated movie. But the movie itself is hardly interesting or amusing enough to watch. Nothing really happens and thank goodness that the movie doesn't run over 3 minutes. I therefor go with a safe six out of ten.


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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is a historically interesting early animation effort

Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
12 June 2007

I don't think there's anything more about this pioneering animation effort that hasn't already been said before by many of the other reviewers except maybe only the very young who haven't been exposed to cartoons previously would find this the most charming thing they have ever seen yet! Certainly we all recognize how primitive these chalk drawings are now having been exposed to Disney, The Simpsons, hell, even Beavis and Butthead is more sophisticated than this short Humorous Phases of Funny Faces! That said, anyone with an interest in animation's history should watch this at least once to see where it all began...

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Where it all began...

Author: Lirazel
7 August 1999

The artist's hand and a blackboard..a quick sketch of a face..another face, a cigar, a cloud of smoke, and suddenly, a whole new art form is born. No genius here, absolutely terrible drawing, but it's the first one as far as we know, and deserves a bit of credit just for that..Melies did stop motion first, and there were hundreds of flip books using the persistence of vision to animate line drawings before this silly little strip of celluloid came along. Nonetheless, everyone who has ever enjoyed a Tex Avery or Disney cartoon should know the humble origins of the form, and this is one example.

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Drawings Full of Life

Author: exe_malaga93 from Argentina
11 March 2016

And here I am. Still reviewing some key examples of early animation on celluloid. Today, I decided to focus on another more recognized work from film genius James Stuart Blackton, the renowned Father of Animation, which I find much more elaborated, but equally effective, than his previous work on animation: the remarkable "The Enchanted Drawing".

"Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" not only is as captivating as the aforementioned film, but it also nearly surpasses it, especially considering the creativity that Blackton put in the drawings, in which new techniques already used still shine in this one, such as cut-out and stop-motion, this time used in a more natural and fluid way, helping to bring a new level of realism to their creations.

As if that were not enough, this time we do not see Blackton in person, but only his hands, giving the drawings the absolute protagonism.

The effort and dedication that was put to make this short is indeed admirable, besides being a meaningful contribution to the development of animation in film, in a time when it was developed slowly, until it became what we know today.

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One of the first animation film.

Author: acingst from United States
21 December 2015

This film is made by James Stuart Blackton in U.S.A. At the first, blackboard and a human hand appears in the film. Then, the human hand draws pictures which are a man and a woman with choke. After that, the human hand disappears from the screen and stories which the man and the woman drawn begin. The painter's hand appears sometimes in the screen and the hand erasers pictures on the blackboard. And new story begins in the film. This film is made still in the era of silent. So, we can watch now many kinds of the film added later versions sounds. In addition, it is said that this film is the first animated movie in the world. The characters move in comical and those actions are in light. People who have seen the film are interested in story changing. In the early days of animation movie there is a live-action part. We can also see the history of movie is seen. It is one of the interesting characteristics of this movie.

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Cutting-Edge Entertainment--For 1906

Author: lunatim from Minnesota
6 November 1999

If you're a lover of really old movies, this is a real charmer. This is an animated version of a 'chalk talk' or 'lightning drawing' vaudeville act. It has an animated title, and each segment of the film begins with J. Stuart Blackton drawing each character. Sure, the animation is crude and occasionally Mr. Blackton's hand pops up during the animated parts, but is forgivable since this is recognized as the first animated cartoon ever. The white-on-black drawing and caracatures from an era gone by give it a sublimely surreal quality.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I have one question...

Author: booyah-1991 from Canada
4 January 2006

I, of course, like this animated short that J. Stuart Blackton created and it is spectacular, but I have one question about this short. The one question is when J. Stuart Blackton, the artist in the film, is drawing the characters' sequences with a chalk bit-by-bit, I do not know how the drawings move, like when the guy with a mustache is drawn beside a woman, he smokes. Now, I do not get that particular part of the animated short.

Of course, I love this film because there were silly cartoon drawings and it was one of the early special effects in film history, but The Enchanted Drawing, made in November 1900, was, I believe, the first animated film with special effects.


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