Booth’s Lightning Cartoon

Animated Cotton
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Charles Urban Trading Company. UK 1909
Print: BFI

“Relax and unwind in rewind with this trick film – if you haven’t cottoned on yet all is not as it seems… It might not take you long to cotton on to the trick of this film, but the results are still impressive. Though the various strings, wools and embroideries if this film are certainly animated in one sense, it is not through stop-motion animation. The time-consuming process of manipulating threads frame-by-frame is avoided by simply using reverse film techniques.”
BFI Player

“Framed by live-action sequences, the appeal and title of the film derives from three sequences where a piece of white cotton magically forms an image on a black background. While the techniques of this film, produced by playing in reverse the removal of a carefully constructed image outlined in string, are more akin to the trick film than drawn animation, its aesthetic content is pure lightning cartoon. The slow revealing of the image demonstrates Booth’s awareness and mastery of the narrative of perception that is at the heart of the lightning cartoon. Particularly important is the order of the three images displayed. After the first image (a bicycle) a second image begins to appear, but confounding the expectations established by the first iconographic image, the second never forms a recognisable object, remaining an abstract arabesque. By the final image, which resolves into a fashionable lady, the narrative of perception is heightened, held in tension between the search for the recognisable, as in the first image, and the possibility of this being unrealised, as in the second image. Animated Cotton is thus typical of Booth’s adaptation of the lightning cartoon in combining it with trick film techniques, engaging the perceptual faculties of the audience as they actively seek regognition in the images.”
Malcolm Cook: Early British Animation: From Page and Stage to Cinema Screens. Springer 2018, p. 86-87

Walter R. Booth on this website:
>>> Undressing extraordinary
>>> The Aerial Submarine
>>> The Automatic Motorist
>>> Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost
>>> The Hand of the Artist
>>> The Airship Destroyer
>>> A Railway Collision
>>> Diabolo Nightmare