Clay Animation

The Sculptor’s Nightmare
R: Wallace McCutcheon. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mack Sennett, Harry L. Solter, Tony O’Sullivan, Edward Dillon, David Wark Griffith. P: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. USA 1908
Print: Library of Congress (Paper Print Collection)

“At a political club, the members debate whose bust will replace that of Theodore Roosevelt. Unable to agree, each goes to a sculptor’s studio and bribes him to sculpt a bust of the individual favorite. Instead, the sculptor spends their fees on a dinner with his model during which he becomes so inebriated that he is taken to jail. There he has a nightmare, wherein three busts are created and animated from clay (through stop-motion photography) in the likenesses of Democrat William Jennings Bryan and Republicans Charles W. Fairbanks and William Howard Taft. Finally an animated bust of Roosevelt appears.”
Library of Congress

“Clay animation is a technique of making clay characters and using stop motion animation to make the clay come to life and have movement in the film. Claymation has been used for many years and it seems to be used less and less in today’s society with the advances in CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). Claymation has had a long history and has made some major successes in its years of being in use. The first clay animation film was made in 1908 by Thomas Edison. This film was called The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend*, this was known as a trick film that used some claymation throughout. Another early clay animation film was called the The Sculptor’s Nightmare which was also released in 1908. Claymation started becoming more and more popular and by the time 1916 came along it was everywhere. Willie Hopkins and Helena Smith Dayton produced a lot of different clay animation films in the early 1916’s. The first feature length clay animation film was called I go Pogo and it was directed by Marc Paul Chinoy in 1980.”
Kim Cullian

* produced 1906!

Clay animation by Walter R. Booth:

Animated Putty
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Kineto Films. UK 1911

“Ancient ancestors of Wallace, Gromit and Morph abound in this trick film filled with malleable magic. Walter Booth made a number of films that began to explore the potential of stop-motion to bring cut-outs, string, and here clay to life. Many of these scenes are also filmed backwards adding to the uncanny effect, with the devilish, gargoyle faces towards the end of the film being particularly delightful.”

The Female Status as Image

How Men Propose
R: Lois Weber. B: Lois Weber. D: Chester Barnett, Grace Darling, Phillips Smalley. P: Crystal Film Company. USA 1913

How Men Propose (1913) is a particularly imaginative rendition of the narrative implications of resistance to the equation between woman and image of the male look. (…) How Men Propose offers one of the most interesting forms of female ‘primitive’ narration, since in this film the woman actually responds to her status as image.”
Judith Mayne: The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women’s Cinema. Indiana University Press 1990, p. 174

>>> Lois Weber and her films Suspense and Hypocrites

Caserini’s Parsifal, 1912

R: Mario Caserini. B: Alberto A. Capozzi. K: Angelo Scalenghe. Ba: Arrigo Frusta. D: Dario Silvestri, Mario Bonnard, Mary Cléo Tarlarini, Maria Caserini Gasparini, Antonio Grisanti. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1912
Print: EYE Amsterdam
Dutch titles

“In 1904, Edwin S. Porter directed Parsifal, a twenty-five-minute silent screened in New York City. It consists of eight scenes from the opera, including ‘Magic Garden’ and ‘Return of Parsifal’. Other early silent films associated with Wagner’s work include Franz Porten’s Lohengrin (1907), in which the director played the title role and his daughter played Elsa; Pathé’s Tristan et Yseult (1909), directed by Albert Capellani; Ugo Falena’s Tristano e Isotta (1911), which starred Francesca Bertini, one of the most celebrated film stars; and Mario Caserini’s Parsifal (1912) and Sigfrido (1912). (…) In 1921, Max Reinhardt produced another Wagner silent film, Parzifal, a ‘Kinoweihfestfilm’ (a festival film for the consecration of a screen), a sarcastic challenge to the sacred status of Wagner’s Parsifal, which he called ‘ein Bühnenweihfestspiel’ (a festival play for the consecration of a stage).”
Jeongwon Joe, Sander L. Gilman: Wagner and Cinema. Indiana University Press 2010. Introduction by Jeongwon Joe, p. 4

>>> Caserini’s Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei: Blockbusters from Italy

Émile Cohl: Dreams and Nightmares

Un drame chez les fantoches
R: Émile Cohl. P: Gaumont. Fr 1908

Le cauchemar de fantoche
R: Émile Cohl. P: Gaumont. Fr 1908

Clair de lune Espagnol
R: Émile Cohl. P: Gaumont. Fr 1909

Le mobilier fidèle
R: Émile Cohl. P: Gaumont. Fr 1910

“He was the world’s first filmaker to devote himself exclusively to animation. In 1908 he amazed Paris movie audiences with his first film, Fantasmagorie, in which white stick figures cavorted against a black background. He went on to create some 100 brief cartoons, drawing and photographing each frame himself. Cohl introduced the first regular cartoon character, ‘Fantoche’, a little puppet who appeared in several of his films, and the first cartoon series, The Newlyweds and Their Baby (1912 to 1913). He also developed an animation trick he called ‘metamorphosis’, achieved through skillful use of line, in which a character or object seamlessly transforms into another. (Now known as ‘morphing’, Cohl’s idea is a staple effect of computer-generated imagery, in both animated and live-action films). Though rudimentary, Cohl’s surviving work still has the power to charm and amuse. Among his other films are ‘The Puppet’s Nightmare’ (Le cauchemar de fantoche, 1908), ‘The Moon-Struck Matador’ (1909), ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Herr Munchausen’ (1910), and ‘The Museum of Grotesques’ (1911).”
Bobb Edwards
Find a Grave

>>> on this website:  Émile Cohl, Master of Animation

A Dutch Chase Film

De mésaventure van een Fransch heertje zonder pantalon aan het strand te Zandvoort
R: Bernard (Albert) Mullens, Willy Mullens. K: Bernard (Albert) Mullens. D: Willy Mullens. P: Alberts Frères. Ne 1905

“This short is among the oldest surviving Dutch fiction films.
In July 1905 several Dutch newspapers reported on a man who pulled off his trousers on a public beach at Zandvoort. Front page news, according to these newspapers. However, some of these newspapers forgot to mention that this unscrupulous incident was part of the production of this classic chase film.”

Another Mullens film:

Het Vogeltje
R: Bernard (Albert) Mullens. D: Anton Roemer. P: Alberts Frères Amsterdam. Ne 1912

“In the press the performances of Alberts Frères were praised often because of the quiet projection, the variety of offerings in drama and comedy, their colour films and musical accompaniment, the explanations and lectures of Willy Mullens and finally cosiness and atmosphere of their theatre spaces. Also specific genres of film such as the coloured spectacles, auto races, nature films and actualities like The Zeppelin, are mentioned. Alberts Frères thus offered a total experience, an event, with films at the heart of that event.”
Kaveh Askari, Scott Curtis, Frank Gray, Louis Pelletier, Tami Williams, Joshua Yumibe (ed.): Performing New Media, 1890-1915. Indiana University Press 2014, p. 120

Also: Ivo Blom: Jean Desmet and the Early Dutch Film Trade. Amsterdam University Press 2000

>>> Chase Films

A Sensational Melodrama

Padre (Frgm.)
R: Gino Zaccaria, Dante Testa. K: Giovanni Tomatis. Special effects: Segundo de Chomón. D: Ermete Zacconi, Lydia Quaranta, Dante Testa, Giovanni Casaleggio, Febo Mari, Signor Ravel, Valentina Frascaroli. P: Itala Film, Torino. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE (Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

“L’industriale Evaristo Marni, invidioso del successo di un suo concorrente, Andrea Vivanti, istiga un operaio ubriacone, Tonio, ad appiccare il fuoco allo stabilimento di Andrea. Questi, che pochi giorni prima aveva contratto un’ingente assicurazione per il suo opificio, è accusato di incendio doloso e condannato all’ergastolo. Il disgraziato lascia sola al mondo una bambina, che Evaristo accoglie in casa propria per placare la voce della coscienza.
Tredici anni dopo, Andrea riesce a evadere dalla prigione e sotto le spoglie di un cenciaiolo fa ritorno alla città natale. Frequentando l’osteria dei ‘Due Bicchieri’ fa conoscenza di Tonio, ed è grazie a lui che Andrea scopre la verità sulla sua disgrazia. Andrea si reca subito da Evaristo per vendicarsi, ma vedendo come Roberto, unico figlio di Evaristo, stringe affettuosamente a sé la figlia del condannato, la sua ira si placa. Andrea rinuncia alla vendetta e decide di ripartire. Intanto Tonio, credendo di essere stato preso in giro dal suo complice Evaristo, per vendicarsi appicca il fuoco alla villa. L’incendio notturno fa ritornare Andrea alla villa: qui incontra finalmente sua figlia Lidia, che non riconoscendolo, lo implora di salvare colui che crede suo padre. Riesce a salvare il suo rivale, che però morirà qualche ora dopo, confessando, sul letto di morte, la propria colpa.”

“Chomón’s skill in trick photography and special effects soon became visible in Itala films such as the sensational melodrama, Padre (Father). This film also was praised for the dramatic acting of the famous theater actor Ermete Zacconi, leading to other vehicles for Zacconi such as Lo Scomparso (The Dread of Doom) (1913) and L’Emigrante (The Emigrant) (1915).”
Richard Abel: Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Taylor & Francis 2005, p. 333

>>> Segundo de Chomón on this site

R: Febo Mari. K: Natale Chiusano, Segundo De Chomón. D: Ermete Zacconi, Valentina Frascaroli, Enrichetta Sabbatini, Felice Minotti, Amerigo Manzini, Lucia Cisello. P: Itala Film, Torino. It 1915
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema
Ital. titles

Ermete Zacconi (14 September 1857, Montecchio Emilia, Province of Reggio Emilia – 14 October 1948 in Viareggio) was an Italian stage and film actor and a representative of naturalism and verism in acting. His leading ladies on stage were his wife Ines Cristina Bagni and Paola Pezzaglia.He had lead roles in plays by William Shakespeare, Carlo Goldoni, Alfred de Musset, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg. He also performed in films. His most notable film roles include L’emigrante (1915), Summer Rain (1937), Processo e morte di Socrate (1939), and Le Comte de Monte Cristo (1943).”

Wetzlar, Germany 1914

R: Oskar Barnack. D 1914
Print: Deutsches Filminstitut-DIF

“Dokumentation der Internationalen Regatta des Frankfurter Regatta-Vereins e.V. am 31.5./1.6. 1914 am Deutschherrnkai in Frankfurt am Main. (…) Seit den 1910er Jahren hat Oskar Barnack, der Erfinder der Leica, mit seiner selbstkonstruierten Filmkamera Geschehnisse rund um Wetzlar im Bild festgehalten. Er dokumentierte Flutkatastrophen, Stadtfeste, medizinische Experimente, Sportereignisse und die Firma bei der er als Chefkonstrukteur beschäftigt war: die Optischen Werke Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar.”

Wetzlarer Wintersport an der Brühlsbachwarte
R: Oskar Barnack. D 1914
Print: Deutsches Filminstitut-DIF

Kreis-Tierschaufest (Ochsenfest) in Wetzlar
R: Oskar Barnack. D 1914
Print: Deutsches Filminstitut-DIF

“A documentary on a festival in Wetzlar. Carriages representing the seasons of a farmers life drive by. Footage of the Domplatz and Kornmarkt in Wetzlar. Further carriages: traditional dresses from Wittenberg and the carriage of the Union Club, a society that was famous for its choir, which still exists today. Animals are lined-up for the award ceremony on Finsterloh festival square, near Büblinghausen. They are judged by a jury visible in the background. On the stand: the contemporary haute volée of Wetzlar.”
Filmarchives Online

>>> Germany 1903