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A Fantasy (1908)
"Fantasmagorie" (original title)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,035 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 1 critic

The first all-animated film in history, a series of scenes without much narrative structure, but morphing into each other.

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Title: A Fantasy (1908)

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The first all-animated film in history, a series of scenes without much narrative structure, but morphing into each other.

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17 August 1908 (France)  »

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Fantasmagorie  »

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1.33 : 1
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Gaumont Catalogue no. 2032 See more »

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Edited into International Festival of Animation (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fantastic, energetic, cleverly-inventive stream of almost indecipherable animation
19 June 2007 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Émile Cohl, a French caricaturist, is often described as "The Father of the Animated Cartoon." Considered the first fully-animated film, his two-minute 1908 film 'Fantasmagorie' {alternatively, in English: 'A Fantasy,' 'Black and White,' or 'Metamorphosis'} is made up on approximately 700 double-exposed drawings, using what is known as a "chalk-line effect" (filming black lines on white paper, then reversing the negative to give the impression of white chalk on a black chalkboard), a technique probably borrowed from early animator James Stuart Blackton. A fast-paced, confusing and almost-surreal short film, 'Fantasmagorie' is loaded with dozens of tiny seconds-long scenes, which rapidly metamorphosise into the next, possibly a stylistic tribute to the short-lived, long-forgotten Incoherent Movement of the 1880s, of which Cohl had been a part. The title of the film itself is taken from the word "fantasmograph," which referred to a magic lantern that could project ghostly images across walls.

Not following any standard narrative, 'Fantasmagorie' is really quite difficult to follow. The film starts with a hand quickly sketching a dangling clown, which instantly transforms into a large man in an elevator, which materialises into a man in a cinema whose view is suddenly blocked by a woman with a tall feathery hat. This scene, probably the longest single sequence at about 20 seconds, shows the man desperately trying to glimpse the screen again by peeling away the feathers of the hat, only for the women's head to suddenly expand into a large bubble for the next scene transition. The remainder of the film is a hectic jumble of jumping about, fishing, sword-fighting, canons, flowers, milk bottles, elephants turning into houses and, for the grand finale, a character departing into the left-hand side of the screen on a horse.

I found 'Fantasmagorie' to be quite an interesting early short, though it moved much, much too quickly to be solidly enjoyable (J. Stuart Blackton made a much more accessible film two years earlier with 'Humorous Phases of Funny Faces'). Nonetheless, the film carries great historical importance in the field of animation, and Cohl's style undoubtedly influenced such animators as Winsor McCay, perhaps most famous for his 1914 animated short film, 'Gertie the Dinosaur.'


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