Animating with Live Action Footage

Animating with Live Action Footage


Animating with Live Action Footage

This is the final entry in a series of six essays based on the list of “250 Great Animated Short Films,” recently published here at Press Play.  These six essays are celebrating the inspiration behind some of these films; a complementary series of 20 essays on my cultural history blog, 21 Essays, focuses on common themes.

First, a memory which has been seared into my brain:  It’s 1973 and my cousin and I are alone in the house, obsessively playing and replaying the last minute of the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” backwards on a cheap plastic portable turntable. And I’m getting seriously creeped out.

“I Am the Walrus” is weird enough played forward, with that strange background voice muttering “Bury me . . . bury my body” behind the chanting chorus.  But we were on a mission to uncover further secrets. With my index finger, I revolved the record backward on the turntable, attempting to maintain an even speed. Strange sounds issued from the speaker and we eagerly bent forward to decipher any cryptic clues that might emerge, searching for revelation though the noise and murk.

Play it backwards, slow it down, speed it up, bounce the needle, scrape it against the groove. This was Dada-esque work—an accidental premonition of the hip-hop sampling to come, or today’s mashups. But we weren’t in this for light entertainment. We were descending into darkness in a search for truth—and descents into that kind of darkness are memorably scary.

The Austrian filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky makes films that revive that decades-old feeling of dread in me.  In 1998, Tscherkassky took a strip of film from the Lumieres’ 1895 L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat into his darkroom to create L’Arrivee.  The following year, he took a strip of footage from Sidney J. Furie’s The Entity (1981) and created Outer Space.  Tscherkassky treats these films the way I once treated that Beatles album—he uses every darkroom technique at his disposal to plumb their depths.  I like to think that he’s scratching the same itch that drove our obsession with “I Am the Walrus.” His unsettling transformations suggest there may be another primal level of meaning behind film images… and that intimates the possibility of further primal levels of meaning behind all life experiences.  If we could only dare to peer a little deeper into the darkness, the meaning of it all might become clearer.

In his CinemaScope Trilogy (comprising the three shorts L’Arrivée, Outer Space, and Dream Work), Tscherkassky takes strips of found film and photo-chemically pushes their images to their limits… and then a bit further. At first, images appear relatively ordinary and familiar, but then they shift into a dream logic that may unexpectedly repeat or dissolve an action, sometimes overlaying image upon image and spraying them with strobe-like effects. In both Outer Space and Dream Work (2003), the processing reaches heights so extreme that it triggers on-screen cinematic freakouts, in which the films themselves tear loose from their sprockets and the images melt on the screen.

Each of the movies in Tscherkassky’s CinemaScope Trilogy is—in part—a film about film. In Dream Work, we even glimpse the filmmaker’s hands as he arranges the images.  This approach uncomfortably reveals a level of sadistic manipulation present in many standard Hollywood images, even as it ups the ante.  As Press Play editor Kevin B. Lee once commented, there’s not much difference between the aggression shown toward Daffy Duck in Chuck Jones’ classic Duck Amuck (1953) and the claustrophobic menace that envelopes Barbara Hershey’s character in Outer Space.

While Tscherkassky’s films create strange new contexts for conventional movie images, his fellow Austrian filmmaker Virgil Widrich has located his radical film experiments within classically-shaped narratives.  In assembling our list of 250 great animated short films, our panel selected Widrich’s rip-roaring Fast Film for inclusion. In just 14 minutes, Widrich folds, spinkles, and mutilates approximately 400 classic film clips, sending them careening through a generic Hollywood plot at warp speed. In this breathless context, traditional Hollywood filmmaking is simultaneously celebrated and revealed as banal. And, curiously, a new delirious beauty emerges from the cacophony.  It’s a film for move buffs to treasure.

Admittedly, I opened the door to including Tscherkassky’s and Widrich’s films when I ruled early in our selection process that Norman McLaren’s Neighbours (1952) and Pas de deux (1968) were eligible. Widely recognized as one of the great innovative geniuses of 20th century animation, Scottish-born Canadian animator Norman McLaren (1914-1987) forever muddied the waters that separated classic animation from live action film.  After mastering traditional animation in the 1930s and 1940s, McLaren began experimenting with hybrid forms that combined live action with animation and extreme photographic effects including variable speed photography, stop-frame techniques, negative images, and multiple exposures. A consummate artist, he used these techniques to create an astounding range of work, from the savage political satire of Neighbours to the hallucinatory beauty of his short ballet films.

McLaren is represented by three films on our list:  the fully-animated Begone Dull Care (1949) and the hybrids Neighbours and Pas de deux. Created for the National Film Board of Canada (one of the world’s great producers of animated short films), Pas de deux takes the techniques that McLaren used to disturbing effect in Neighbours and employs them instead to explore beauty in motion. Ballet dancers Margaret Mercier and Vincent Warren perform a classic pas de deux captured on live action film, with their movements then transformed into something close to abstraction through McLaren’s lyric multiple exposures and stop-frame techniques. The result is a remarkable visual essay on human movement, exquisitely choreographed and vibrantly sensual.

Pas de deux by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada

In creating our list of 250 great animated short films, our definition of animation was stretched near the breaking point by consideration of films like Dream Work, Fast Film, and Pas de deux.  I’m proud that they’re on the list, even as I admit a lingering doubt that the Tscherkassky and McLaren films legitimately qualify.  But even if the latter two films fall outside some definitions of classic animation, they surely reside on an exciting borderline frontier between animation and live action.  I tend to like the borderlines.  No one plays it safe on the frontiers.

Lee Price is the Director of Development at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (Philadelphia, PA). In addition, he writes a popular fundraising column for Public Libraries, writes a tourism/history blog called "Tour America's Treasures," and recently concluded two limited-duration blogs, "June and Art" and "Preserving a Family Collection."

Animating Horror

Animating Horror

This is the fifth of six essays based on the list of “250 Great Animated Short Films,” recently published here at Press Play.  These six essays are celebrating the inspiration behind some of these films; a complementary series of 20 essays on my cultural history blog, 21 Essays, focuses on common themes.

“Still I waited while time slowed… stopped… ebbed out.”
              The Tell-Tale Heart (1953)
              Directed by Ted Parmelee
              Story adaptation by Bill Scott and Fred Grable

It’s the witching hour…


The Sandman (1993), directed by Paul Berry.


The Tell-Tale Heart (1953), directed by Ted Parmelee.


Harpya (1979), directed by Raoul Servais.

The moon is out…


The Tell-Tale Heart (1953), directed by Ted Parmelee.


The Sandman (1993), directed by Paul Berry.

A lonely house at night…


The Tell-Tale Heart (1953), directed by Ted Parmelee.


Harpya (1979), directed by Raoul Servais.


The Sandman (1993), directed by Paul Berry.

Inside, there’s a staircase…


The Tell-Tale Heart (1953), directed by Ted Parmelee.


Harpya (1979), directed by Raoul Servais.


The Sandman (1993), directed by Paul Berry.

Shadows lengthen and fall…


Harpya (1979), directed by Raoul Servais.


The Tell-Tale Heart (1953), directed by Ted Parmelee.


The Sandman (1993), directed by Paul Berry.

There are many remarkable images of nightmarish horror on our list of 250 great animated short films.  The images in this essay are drawn from three particular films that succeed in merging expressionist and surreal nightmare images with a traditional horror narrative—the type of tale that’s told around a campfire as the sun sets and the shadows lengthen.

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953), directed by Ted Parmelee

Harpya (1979), directed by Raoul Servais

The Sandman (1991), directed by Paul Berry

Happy Halloween!

Lee Price is the Director of Development at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (Philadelphia, PA). In addition, he writes a popular fundraising column for Public Libraries, writes a tourism/history blog called "Tour America's Treasures," and recently concluded two limited-duration blogs, "June and Art" and "Preserving a Family Collection."

Animating Real Life

Animating Real Life


This is the third of six essays based on the list of “250 Great Animated Short Films” recently published here at Press Play.  These six essays are celebrating the inspiration behind some of these films; a complementary series of 20 essays on my cultural history blog, 21 Essays, focuses on common themes.

“… but I’m getting off the subject here, I’m afraid. This story is about Ryan.”

The subject of Ryan (2004) is real: animator Ryan Larkin (1943-2007). The story is drawn from real life, as pieced together from recorded interviews. The visual approach is . . . director Chris Landreth’s interpretation of real life.

But isn’t that the way it always works? The subject of James Boswell’s classic Life of Johnson is Samuel Johnson. The story is pieced together from transcripts and remembrances of conversations. The narrative is . . . Boswell’s interpretation of real life.  Granted, Boswell doesn’t show us Johnson and friends with exposed brain matter, bones, and tendons, yet he manages to find his own strategies to artfully shape the narrative of a life.

A 21st century Boswell might show a CGI-animated Johnson with his Tourette's Syndrome exaggerated, confusing and frightening people with his tics and sudden unexpected motions. Animating real life is a challenge—by nature, animation looks fictional, as opposed to, say, still photography or biography writing, art forms that can make claims to objectivity more easily.

With the dawn of live action film, realism preceded fantasy—Auguste and Louis Lumière precede Georges Méliès. But this process was reversed with the dawn of animated film. The history of animation began with fiction, fantasy, and artful exaggeration. While live action cinema took its first cues from still photography, animation looked to fiction, theater, and the paintings on the salon walls for inspiration.

Ten years after Émile Cohl and Segundo de Chomón made their seminal fantasy animations Fantasmagorie (1908) and The Electric Hotel (1908), pioneering animator Winsor McCay created what is widely regarded as the first attempt at animating documentary material, The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918). McCay’s film aimed for a high degree of realism, documenting the sinking of the ship with the same technical fascination that James Cameron brought to Titanic (1997) nearly eighty years later. Two years in the making, McCay’s masterful drawing talents proved extraordinarily effective in depicting real-life horror and tragedy.

However, moving and innovative as it was, The Sinking of the Lusitania was in many ways a dead end, the last gasp of the newspaper graphic illustration tradition as it was superseded by the alleged realism of photojournalism. McCay returned to fantasy subjects for his final animated films and the idea of using animation to depict contemporary news stories was abandoned.

Animation became a fallback device that documentary filmmakers used as vignettes in longer films, mainly as a way of illustrating abstract ideas. Max and Dave Fleischer used limited animation in their early science shorts, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and The Einstein Theory of Relativity (both 1923). Disney combined live footage with animation in the feature-length documentary Victory Through Air Power (1943) and the Our Friend the Atom (1957), a TV episode broadcast on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. This approach wasn't exactly a dead end—animation continues to be a wonderful tool for use in educational and marketing films—but it rarely fully capitalized on the power inherent in animation.

Jump cut to 1973. In Frank Film, Frank and Caroline Mouris presented a radically new strategy for using animation to depict real life—or, more precisely, the real life of the mind. Just nine minutes in length, Frank Film playfully weaves three components, all interacting simultaneously. Two of the components are aural: one soundtrack is of Frank Mouris reflecting on his life and a second overlapping soundtrack has Frank Mouris releasing a monotone torrent of free-association (usually words or phrases starting with the letter ‘f’), riffing on ideas and words overheard on the first soundtrack. The visual component is a rapid-fire animated collage of photos loosely suggested by material on both soundtracks.

Bold and unapologetically weird, Frank Film paved new directions for animation to pursue in the quest for realism—but an internal psychological realism rather than the external realism of McCay’s The Sinking of the LusitaniaFrank Film is more like a cinematic equivalent to Molly’s soliloquy at the close of James Joyce’s Ulysses.  Decades before attention-deficit disorder entered the public consciousness, Frank Film presciently depicted modern life as an anxiety-inducing bombardment of images and sounds.

While Frank Film is entirely presented from inside Frank’s consciousness, Ryan (2004) uses animation to find universal themes in a cafeteria and a street in Montreal. The ostensible subject is animator Ryan Larkin but in some ways he’s just the MacGuffin (Hitchcock’s famous phrase for a peripheral plot device needed to launch the narrative). In Ryan, Landreth shows a world where everyone is damaged. Animation enables him to depict inner psychological damage in horrific physical ways. The film opens with Landreth showing the damages that life has wrought upon him, and it closes with allusions to his mother’s alcoholism (and a concluding intertitle dedicating the film to her). Every character that passes across the screen is graphically scarred with damage and pain. The compassion elicited by this vision of the world is nearly unbearable. Landreth’s surreal animation forces us to see the excruciating pain behind the real-life conversations that we hear on the soundtrack.

This unflinching brand of animated realism has got to be hard on the filmmakers. Belgian animator Mathieu Labaye took his father as a subject, resulting in a film that’s every bit as emotionally devastating and compassionate as Ryan. Orgesticulanismus (2008) opens with photos of Benoît Labaye, the director’s father, accompanied by a soundtrack of Benoît explaining his way of viewing the world. He has multiple sclerosis. “So when you are deprived of the ability to move, as I am, as many others are . . . in order to survive, you need to reinvent movement.”  In the animation that follows, the son imagines the mental landscape of his father as he dissects and reinvents movement. It’s an act of great love, by turns nightmarish and liberating.

Films like Frank Film, Ryan, and Orgesticulanismus are enlarging the boundaries of film art, suggesting that the boundaries that appeared to distinguish Émile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie from Winsor McCay’s The Sinking of the Lusitania may have been artificial all along. Animation’s natural strength in depiction of fantasy and abstraction may be precisely the element that can make it a powerful vehicle for animating real life.

Here’s a list of 11 films with intriguing realistic or documentary elements drawn from our list of 250 great animated short films. I’ve broadened my net to include films based on memoirs (Caroline Leaf’s The Street is based on the childhood memories of author Mordecai Richler), personal correspondence (Piotr Dumala’s Franz Kafka is based on the author’s correspondence), and interviews (Never Like the First Time!).

Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (Ward Kimball & Charles A. Nichols, USA, 1953) 

Frank Film (Caroline & Frank Mouris, USA, 1973) 

Great (Isambard Kingdom Brunel) (Bob Godfrey, UK, 1975) 

The Street (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1976) 

Powers of Ten (Charles & Ray Eames, USA, 1977) 

Franz Kafka (Piotr Dumala, Poland, 1992)

Black Soul / Âme noire (Martine Chartrand, Canada, 2001) 

Ryan (Chris Landreth, Canada, 2004)

The Danish Poet (Torill Kove, Norway/Canada, 2006) 

Never Like the First Time! / Aldrig som första gången! (Jonas Odell, Sweden, 2006) 

Orgesticulanismus (Mathieu Labaye, Belgium, 2008)

Lee Price is the Director of Development at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (Philadelphia, PA). In addition, he writes a popular fundraising column for Public Libraries, writes a tourism/history blog called "Tour America's Treasures," and recently concluded two limited-duration blogs, "June and Art" and "Preserving a Family Collection."

Animating the Classics

Animating the Classics

This is the first of six essays based on the list of “250 Great Animated Short Films,” recently published here at Press Play.  These six essays will celebrate the inspiration behind some of these films; a complementary series of 20 essays on my cultural history blog, 21 Essays, will focus on common themes.

The inimitable American humorist James Thurber once proposed that Walt Disney should animate Homer’s Odyssey. “(Disney’s) Odyssey can be, I am sure, a far, far greater thing than even his epic of the three little pigs,” Thurber wrote in 1934.

The list of 250 animated great short films that my friends and I recently compiled contains a number of ambitious adaptations in the vein that Thurber proposed above. They transform the world’s great literature into something new—an animated vision. Our list has works adapted from such respected literary stylists as Lewis Carroll, Nikolai Gogol, Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, the New Testament Gospel writer Luke, James Thurber, and, yes, even Homer.

There’s no easy formula for adapting material from one medium to another. To do justice to a short story like Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King,” director John Huston felt he needed 129 minutes—and that was without any significant padding. Nevertheless, animation directors have accepted the challenge of flipping literature into animated short film on many occasions, turning to short stories, poems, novels, and even ancient Greek epics for inspiration. The trick is to get the tone right.

With nearly all of the literature-adapted films on our list, the style of the artwork becomes more important than the script itself in capturing the flavor of the source material. There’s the uncanny pinscreen animation used by Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker in 1963 to tell Nikolai Gogol’s weird story The Nose, a black comedy nightmare about a nose that deserts its owner’s face. To adapt Ernest Hemingway’s short novel The Old Man and the Sea, Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov drew upon his mastery of the evocative paint-on-glass style. Elaborating upon Luke’s biblical story of Jesus’ nativity, Russian animator Mikhail Aldashin created charming scenes that look like old woodcuts come to life in Rozhdestvo (1997). With each of these films, the visual style adds a new layer of meaning to the original narrative.


Although James Thurber was impressed by the realistic fantasy of the Disney Studio, it was the UPA (United Productions of America) animation studio that succeeded in translating the Thurber style to film. In retrospect, this makes sense. Thurber’s witty, almost Matisse-like sketches have very little in common with Disney’s pursuit of verisimilitude. Thurber’s drawings look a lot more like the spare, minimalist UPA style, first popularized in the early Mr. Magoo films and Gerald McBoing-Boing (1951). In fact, there’s a good chance that Thurber’s work may have influenced the emerging style of UPA. Stephen Bosustow, one of the three founders of UPA, wanted to tackle a Thurber film right from the start. In 1946, before UPA had even released its first short, Bosustow announced that The Thurber Carnival (a theatrical revue of some of the most popular Thurber stories) would be a possibility for a UPA feature film. 

The Thurber Carnival proposal languished unfunded for years, during which time Thurber watched his most famous story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” get the Hollywood big-budget treatment in 1947 courtesy of producer Samuel Goldwyn and star Danny Kaye. Thurber loathed the result. “It began to be bad with the first git-gat-gittle,” Thurber was quoted as saying in Life magazine. “If they spent one tenth of the money, it would have been ten times as good.”

UPA never succeeded in raising the money to make a full-length feature of The Thurber Carnival, but they did eventually film the sly Thurber fable “The Unicorn in the Garden” in 1953. “The Unicorn in the Garden” is a short short story, first published by The New Yorker in 1939 and subsequently appearing in Thurber’s book Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated (1940). Accompanying the story, there was a typical Thurber illustration showing a meek-looking man offering a lily to a unicorn. Like the acclaimed UPA work of a decade later, the drawing captured action and character with the barest minimum of lines.


I haven’t found any record of Thurber’s opinion of the charming movie that William T. Hurtz directed of The Unicorn in the Garden. It would be nice to think that Thurber liked it from the first git-gat-gittle—and that he realized that here was a movie ten times as good as Walter Mitty, at one tenth the cost.

Thurber didn’t live to see that he was prescient about the potential for the Homeric epic as animated short film, too. In 1995, British animator Barry Purves created Achilles, his puppet spin on the life of Homer’s champion warrior. Purves daringly centered his short film on the love between Achilles and Patroclus, presenting it as a full-throttle gay love story. The Iliad portion only covers five minutes of an 11-minute film, but Purves manages to swiftly and effectively re-imagine many of Homer’s key scenes in the short time allotted.

Thurber may have been surprised by Purves’ treatment of Homer—it sure isn’t Mickey Mouse!—but his basic point was on the mark.  Great literature can be well served by the cartoon medium. Sometimes animation can bring the classic stories to life in ways that simply aren’t available to the cinema of live action.

Here’s a list of 24 literary adaptations drawn from our list of 250 great animated short films. It covers an impressive range of moods, from Hans Christian Andersen’s poignant tales to the strong propaganda of Education for Death (1943) to the surreal horror of Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (2007).

The Little Match Girl (Arthur Davis, USA, 1937) 

Ferdinand the Bull (Dick Rickard, USA, 1938) 

Porky in Wackyland (Bob Clampett, USA, 1938) 

Education For Death (Clyde Geronimi, USA, 1943) 

The Little Soldier / Le petit soldat (Paul Grimault, France, 1947) 

The Tell-Tale Heart (Ted Parmelee, USA, 1953) 

The Unicorn in the Garden (William T. Hurtz, USA, 1953)

What’s Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, USA, 1957)

Le nez / The Nose (Alexander Alexeieff & Claire Parker, France, 1963)

The Hangman (Paul Julian & Les Goldman, USA, 1964) 

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (Chuck Jones, USA, 1965)


A Christmas Carol (Richard Williams, USA, 1971) 

The Selfish Giant (Peter Sander, Canada, 1971) 

The Street (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1976) 

The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1977) 

There Will Come Soft Rains / Budet laskovyy dozhd (Nozim To'laho'jayev, USSR, 1984) 

The Man Who Planted Trees / L’homme qui plantait des arbres (Frédéric Back, Canada, 1987) 

Death and the Mother (Ruth Lingford, UK, 1988) 

The Restaurant of Many Orders / Chumon no ooi ryori-ten (Tadanari Okamoto, Japan, 1993) 

Achilles (Barry Purves, UK, 1995) 


Christmas / Rozhdestvo (Mikhail Aldashin, Russia, 1997) 

The Old Man and the Sea (Aleksandr Petrov, Russia, 1999) 

My Love / Moya lyubov (Aleksandr Petrov, Russia, 2006) 

Kafuka: Inaka isha / Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor (Koji Yamamura, Japan, 2007) 


Lee Price is the Director of Development at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (Philadelphia, PA). In addition, he writes a popular fundraising column for Public Libraries, writes a tourism/history blog called "Tour America's Treasures," and recently concluded two limited-duration blogs, "June and Art" and "Preserving a Family Collection."

250 Great Animated Shorts: The List

250 Great Animated Shorts: The List

In 2008, I organized a team of animation enthusiasts to create the list “100 Important Directors of Animated Short Films.” The list was formally published on Kevin B. Lee’s blog Shooting Down Pictures and Fandor’s Keyframe and currently resides on my cultural history blog, 21 Essays.

This year, I returned to my old friends and proposed revisiting the subject with the construction of another list followed by a blow-out celebration of the art of the animated short film.  Completed in late August 2012, our new list is titled “250 Great Animated Short Films.” And that blow-out celebration is now officially in progress: two straight months of cartoon love with pieces published both at 21 Essays and here on Press Play.

To compose our new list, I convened a panel of seven animation enthusiasts—Scott Bussey, Jorge Didaco, Waldemar Hepstein, Bill Kamberger, Robert Reynolds, Sulo Vatanen, and myself.  With additional help from other enthusiasts, we spent a month nominating, watching, and voting upon hundreds of films.

As a guide for making our selections, I asked my fellow panelists to make an effort to keep the list chronologically balanced  (with a representative sampling of shorts from each decade), geographically diverse, and with a reasonable proportion of female to male directors.  Our definition of a short film was 40 minutes or less, and we worked without a set definition of what constitutes an animated film.

And please note that we’ve been very careful to avoid claiming that this is a “best of…” list.  Our goal was simply to select some of the greatest for celebration.

Of course, I’d be shocked if anyone is entirely satisfied with our selection.  I know I’m not!  But I’m still proud of this list.  Somehow I lucked out with my volunteer panelists, managing to strike a happy balance between traditionalists and boundary-pushers.  I was hoping for a list with great Disney and WB cartoons, abstract animations by Fischinger and Lye, weirdness from Svankmajer and the Quay brothers, and profundity from Norshteyn and Back.  And that’s what I got!  I’m very happy indeed.

For the next two months, my friends and I will be contributing pieces about some of our favorites from the list.  The blog entries on 21 Essays will explore common themes like time and memory, love and courtship, and war and violence. 

On Press Play, a series of weekly entries will examine some of the sources of inspiration, such as folk tales, classic literature, and other art forms  (painting, music, and theater). 

Taken together, this pair of series will constitute our two-pronged celebration.

And it all starts with the list…



The Early Years  (1895-1919)

Around a Bathing Hut / Autour d’une cabine (Émile Reynaud, France, 1895) 

The Electric Hotel / El hotel eléctrico (Segundo de Chomón, Spain, 1908) 

Fantasmagorie (Émile Cohl, France, 1908) 

Little Nemo / Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics (Winsor McCay, USA, 1911) 

The Cameraman’s Revenge / Mest kinematograficheskogo operatora (Wladyslaw Starewicz, Russia, 1912) 

How a Mosquito Operates (Winsor McCay, USA, 1912) 

Gertie the Dinosaur (Winsor McCay, USA, 1914) 

Captain Grogg’s Wonderful Journey / Kapten Groggs underbara resa (Victor Bergdahl, Sweden, 1916) 


The 1920s

The Frogs Who Wanted a King / Les grenouilles qui demandent un roi (Wladyslaw Starewicz, France, 1922)

Felix In Hollywood (Otto Messmer, USA, 1923) 

Opus III (Walter Ruttmann, Germany, 1924) 

Symphonie diagonale (Viking Eggeling, Germany, 1924) 

Now You Tell One (Charley Bowers, USA, 1926) 

Spiritual Constructions / Seelische Konstruktionen (Oskar Fischinger, Germany, 1927)

Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney, USA, 1928) 

Ghosts Before Breakfast / Vormittagsspuk (Hans Richter, 1928) 

Hell’s Bells (Ub Iwerks, US, 1929) 

The Skeleton Dance (Walt Disney, USA, 1929) 

The Stolen Lump / Kobu-Tori (Chuzo Aoji and Yasuji Murata, Japan, 1929) 


The 1930s

The Idea / L’idée  (Berthold Bartosch, 1932) 

Night on Bald Mountain / Une nuit sur le mont chauve (Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker, France, 1933) 

Snow-White (Dave Fleischer, USA, 1933) 

Three Little Pigs (Burt Gillett, USA, 1933) 

A Dream Walking (Dave Fleischer, USA, 1934) 

The Mascot / Fétiche (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1934) 

The Joy of Living / La joie de vivre (Anthony Gross & Hector Hoppin, France, 1934) 

The Band Concert (Wilfred Jackson, USA, 1935) 

Papageno (Lotte Reiniger, Germany, 1935) 

Who Killed Cock Robin? (David Hand, USA, 1935) 

Rainbow Dance (Len Lye, UK, 1936) 

Clock Cleaners (Ben Sharpsteen, USA, 1938) 

Escape (Mary Ellen Bute, USA, 1937) 

The Little Match Girl (Arthur Davis, USA, 1937) 

The Old Mill (Wilfred Jackson, USA, 1937) 

Ferdinand the Bull (Dick Rickard, USA, 1938) 

Porky in Wackyland (Bob Clampett, USA, 1938) 

Peace on Earth (Hugh Harman, USA, 1939) 


The 1940s

Mr. Duck Steps Out (Jack King, USA, 1940) 

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company “B” (Walter Lantz, USA, 1941) 

The Night Before Christmas (Joseph Barbera & William Hanna, USA, 1941) 

Rhapsody In Rivets (Friz Freleng, USA, 1941) 

Blitz Wolf (Tex Avery, USA, 1942)

Der Fuehrer’s Face (Jack Kinney, USA, 1942) 

Tulips Shall Grow (George Pal, USA, 1942) 

Donald’s Tire Trouble (Dick Lundy, USA, 1943) 

Education For Death (Clyde Geronimi, USA, 1943) 

Porky Pig’s Feat (Frank Tashlin, USA, 1943) 

Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, USA, 1943) 

Weatherbeaten Melody / Scherzo – Verwitterte Melodie (Hans Fischerkoesen, Germany, 1943) 

The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen / Abenteuer des Freiherrn. von Münchhausen: Eine Winterreise (Hans Held, Germany, 1944) 

The Chimney Thief / Le voleur de paratonnerres (Paul Grimault, France, 1944) 

Daffy Doodles (Robert McKimson, USA, 1946) 

Kitty Kornered (Robert Clampett, USA, 1946) 

The Cat Concerto (Joseph Barbera & William Hanna, USA, 1947) 

King-Size Canary (Tex Avery, USA, 1947) 

The Little Soldier / Le petit soldat (Paul Grimault, France, 1947) 

Motion Painting No. 1 (Oskar Fischinger, USA, 1947) 

Bad Luck Blackie (Tex Avery, USA, 1949) 

Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1949) 

High Diving Hare (Friz Freleng, USA, 1949) 

Inspiration / Inspirace (Karel Zeman, Czechoslovakia, 1949) 


The 1950s

Rabbit of Seville (Chuck Jones, USA, 1950) 

Gerald McBoing Boing (Robert Cannon, USA, 1951) 

Rooty Toot Toot (John Hubley, USA, 1951) 

Neighbours (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1952) 

Duck Amuck (Chuck Jones, USA, 1953) 

The Tell-Tale Heart (Ted Parmelee, USA, 1953) 

Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (Ward Kimball & Charles A. Nichols, USA, 1953) 

The Unicorn in the Garden (William T. Hurtz, USA, 1953) 

One Froggy Evening (Chuck Jones, USA, 1955) 

What’s Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, USA, 1957) 

Free Radicals (Len Lye, UK, 1958) 

House / Dom (Walerian Borowczyk & Jan Lenica, Poland, 1958) 

The Tender Game (John Hubley, USA, 1958) 

The Lion and the Song / Lev a písnicka (Bretislav Pojar, Czechoslovakia, 1959) 


The 1960s

Little Tadpoles Search for Mama / Xiao ke dou zhao ma ma (Wei Te, China, 1960) 

The Ash-Lad and the Good Helpers / Askeladden og de gode hjelperne (Ivo Caprino, Norway, 1961) 

Surogat / Ersatz (Dusan Vukotic, Yugoslavia, 1961) 

Story of a Certain Street Corner / Aru machikado no monogatari (Eiichi Yamamoto & Yusaku Sakamoto, Japan, 1962) 

Labirynt (Jan Lenica, Poland, 1963) 

Le nez / The Nose (Alexander Alexeieff & Claire Parker, France, 1963)

The Hangman (Paul Julian & Les Goldman, USA, 1964) 

The Thieving Magpie / La gazza ladra (Emanuele Luzzati and Giulio Gianini, Italy, 1964) 

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (Chuck Jones, USA, 1965)

Gymnopédies (Larry Jordan, USA, 1965) 

The Hand / Ruka (Jirí Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1966) 

My Green Crocodile / Moy zelenyy krokodil (Vadim Kurchevskiy, USSR, 1966) 

The Seventh Father in the House / Sjuende far i huset (Ivo Caprino, Norway, 1966) 

The Snowman / Snehulák (Hermína Týrlová, Czechoslovakia, 1966) 

Curiosity / Znatizelja (Borivoj Dovnikovic, Yugoslavia, 1967) 

Life in a Tin / Una vita in scatola (Bruno Bozzetto, Italy, 1967) 

The Mitten / Varezhka (Roman Kachanov, USSR, 1967) 

Ball of Yarn / Klubok (Nikolai Serebryakov, USSR, 1968) 

Pas de deux (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1968) 

Storytime (Terry Gilliam, UK, 1968) 

Ballerina on the Boat / Balerina na korable (Lev Atamanov, USSR, 1969) 

Walking / En marchant (Ryan Larkin, Canada, 1969) 

Schody  (Stairs) (Stefan Schabenbeck, Poland, 1969) 


The 1970s

Film, Film, Film (Fyodor Khitruk, USSR, 1970) 

Is It Always Right To Be Right? (Lee Mishkin, USA, 1970) 

Pixillation (Lillian Schwartz, USA, 1970) 

The Roll-Call / Apel (Ryszard Czekala, Poland, 1971) 

The Battle of Kerzhenets / Secha pri Kerzhentse (Ivan Ivanov-Vano & Yuriy Norshteyn, 1971) 

A Christmas Carol (Richard Williams, USA, 1971) 

Evolution (Michael Mills, Canada, 1971) 

How a Sausage Dog Works / Jak dziala jamniczek (Julian Józef Antonisz, Poland, 1971) 

The Selfish Giant (Peter Sander, Canada, 1971) 

Butterfly / Babochka (Andrey Khrzhanovskiy, USSR, 1972) 

Tchou-Tchou (Co Hoedeman, Canada, 1972) 

Coeur de secours (Piotr Kamler, France, 1973) 

Frank Film (Caroline & Frank Mouris, USA, 1973) 

Heavy-Light (Adam Beckett, USA, 1973) 

Café Bar (Alison De Vere, UK, 1974) 

Closed Mondays (Will Vinton, USA, 1974) 

The Diary / Dnevnik (Nedeljko Dragic, Yugoslavia, 1974) 

Fuji (Robert Breer, USA, 1974) 

Great  (Isambard Kingdom Brunel) (Bob Godfrey, UK, 1975) 

Hedgehog in the Fog / Yozhik v tumane (Yuriy Norshteyn, USSR, 1975) 

Dojoji Temple (Kihachiro Kawamoto, Japan, 1976) 

Mindscape / Le paysagiste (Jacques Drouin, Canada, 1976) 

The Street (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1976) 

The Bead Game (Ishu Patel, Canada, 1977) 

Crane Feathers / Zhuravlinye per'ya (Ideya Garanina, USSR, 1977) 

David (Paul Driessen, Netherlands, 1977) 

The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1977) 

Powers of Ten (Charles & Ray Eames, USA, 1977) 

The Sand Castle / Le château de sable (Co Hoedeman, Canada, 1977) 

Boy and Girl / Malchik i devochka (Rozaliya Zelma, USSR, 1978) 

Poor Lisa / Bednaya Liza (Ideya Garanina, USSR, 1978) 

Rowing Across the Atlantic / La Traversée de l'Atlantique à la rame (Jean

François Laguionie, France, 1978) 

Satiemania (Zdenko Gasparovic, Yugoslavia, 1978) 

Asparagus (Suzan Pitt, USA, 1979) 

Every Child (Eugene Fedorenko, Canada, 1979) 

Harpya (Raoul Servais, Belgium, 1979) 

House of Flame/ Kataku  (Kihachiro Kawamoto, Japan, 1979) 

Tale of Tales/ Skazka skazok  (Yuriy Norshteyn, USSR, 1979) 


The 1980s

Fisheye/ Riblje oko  (Josko Marusic, Yugoslavia, 1980) 

The Three Inventors / Les 3 inventeurs (Michel Ocelot, France, 1980) 

Tyll the Giant / Suur Tõll (Rein Raamat, USSR, 1980) 

Who Will Comfort Toffle? / Vem skall trösta knyttet? (Johan Hagelbäck, Sweden, 1980) 

The Circle / O kyklos  (Iordanis Ananiadis, Greece, 1981) 

The Fly / A Légy (Ferenc Rófusz, Hungary, 1981) 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Mark Hall, UK, 1981) 

Skyscraper / Neboder (Josko Marusic, Yugoslavia, 1981) 

Tango (Zbigniew Rybczynski, Poland, 1981) 

Crac (Frédéric Back, Canada, 1981) 

Block / Blok (Hieronim Neumann, Poland, 1982) 

Dimensions of Dialogue / Moznosti dialogu (Jan Svankmajer, Czechoslovakia, 1982) 

Ex Libris (Garik Seko, Czechoslovakia, 1982) 

The Snowman (Dianne Jackson, UK, 1982) 

There Once Was a Dog / Zhil-byl pyos (Eduard Nazarov, USSR, 1982) 

Three Monks / San ge heshang (Jingda Xu  (A Da), China, 1982) 

The Vanished World of Gloves / Zaniklý svet rukavic (Jirí Barta, Czechoslovakia, 1982) 

Esperalia (Jerzy Kalina, Poland, 1983) 

Memories of War (Pierre Hébert, Canada, 1983) 

Anna & Bella (Børge Ring, Netherlands, 1984) 

The Dark Side of the Moon / Obratnaya storona luny (Aleksandr Tatarskiy, USSR, 1984) 

Film-Wipe-Film (Paul Glabicki, USA, 1984) 

Jumping (Osamu Tezuka, Japan, 1984) 

There Will Come Soft Rains / Budet laskovyy dozhd (Nozim To'laho'jayev, USSR, 1984) 

Paradise (Ishu Patel, Canada, 1985) 

The Big Snit (Richard Condie, Canada, 1986) 

Door / Dver (Nina Shorina, USSR, 1986) 

George and Rosemary (David Fine & Alison Snowden, Canada, 1987) 

How Wang-Fo Was Saved / Comment Wang-Fo fut sauvé (René Laloux, France, 1987) 

Lodgers of an Old House / Zhiltsy starogo doma (Alexei Karev, USSR, 1987) 

The Man Who Planted Trees / L’homme qui plantait des arbres (Frédéric Back, Canada, 1987) 

Street of Crocodiles (Stephen & Timothy Quay, UK, 1987) 

Your Face (Bill Plympton, USA, 1987) 

The Cat Came Back (Cordell Barker, Canada, 1988) 

Death and the Mother (Ruth Lingford, UK, 1988) 

Face Like a Frog (Sally Cruikshank, USA, 1988) 

Feelings of Mountains and Waters / Shan shui qing (Wei Te, China, 1988) 

Pas à deux (Monique Renault & Gerrit van Dijk, Netherlands, 1988) 

Prometheus’ Garden (Bruce Bickford, USA, 1988) 

The Public Voice / Den offentlige røst (Lejf Marcussen, Denmark, 1988) 

Walls / Sciany (Piotr Dumala, Poland, 1988) 

Balance  (Christoph Lauenstein & Wolfgang Lauenstein, West Germany, 1989) 

The Cow / Korova (Aleksandr Petrov, USSR, 1989) 

Darkness/Light/Darkness / Tma/Svetlo/Tma (Jan Svankmajer, Czechoslovakia, 1989) 

The Hill Farm (Mark Baker, UK, 1989) 

Knick Knack (John Lasseter, USA, 1989) 

Mind the Steps! / Vigyázat, lépcsö! (István Orosz, Hungary, 1989) 


The 1990s

Grasshoppers / Cavallette (Bruno Bozzetto, Italy, 1990) 

Manipulation  (Daniel Greaves, UK, 1991) 

The Sandman (Paul Berry, UK, 1991) 

Strings  (Wendy Tilby, Canada, 1991) 

When the Leaves Have Fallen Down from the Oak / Az opadá listí z dubu (Vlasta Pospísilová, Czechoslovakia, 1991) 

Franz Kafka (Piotr Dumala, Poland, 1992) 

Hotell E  (Priit Pärn, Estonia, 1992) 

Milk of Amnesia (Jeffrey Noyes Scher, USA, 1992) 

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase (Joan C. Gratz, USA, 1992) 

The Restaurant of Many Orders / Chumon no ooi ryori-ten (Tadanari Okamoto, Japan, 1993) 

The Wrong Trousers (Nick Park, UK, 1993) 

Carmen Trilogy  (Carmen Torero, Carmen Habanera, Carmen Suite) (Aleksandra Korejwo, Poland, 1994 – 1996) 

Felix in Exile (William Kentridge, South Africa, 1994) 

The Monk and the Fish / Le moine et le poisson (Michael Dudok de Wit, France, 1994) 

Triangle (Erica Russell, UK, 1994) 

Achilles  (Barry Purves, UK, 1995) 

Repete (Michaela Pavlátová, Czech Republic, 1995)

Famous Paintings / Beroemde schilderijen (Maarten Koopman, Netherlands, 1996) 

Genre  (Don Hertzfeldt, USA, 1996) 

Quest (Tyron Montgomery, Germany, 1996) 

Christmas / Rozhdestvo (Mikhail Aldashin, Russia, 1997) 

Glassy Ocean / Kujira no Chouyaku (Shigeru Tamura, Japan, 1998) 

More (Mark Osborne, USA, 1998) 

The Old Lady and the Pigeons / La vieille dame et les pigeons (Sylvain Chomet, France, 1998) 

The Old Man and the Sea (Aleksandr Petrov, Russia, 1999) 


The 2000s

Adagio / Adazhio (Garry Bardin, Russia, 2000) 

At the Ends of the Earth / Au bout du Monde (Konstantin Bronzit, France, 2000) 

Le chapeau (Michèle Cournoyer, Canada, 2000) 

Father and Daughter (Michael Dudok de Wit, UK/Belgium/Netherlands, 2000) 

Tuning the Instruments / Strojenie instrumentów (Jerzy Kucia, Poland, 2000) 

Aria  (Pjotr Sapegin, Canada/Norway, 2001) 

Black Soul / Âme noire  (Martine Chartrand, Canada, 2001) 

Cat Soup / Nekojiru-so (Tatsuo Sato, Japan, 2001) 

Down to the Bone / Hasta los huesos (René Castillo, Mexico, 2002) 

Dream Work (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2002) 

A Summer Night Rendez-vous / Au premier dimanche d’août (Florence Miailhe, France, 2002) 

Destino  (Dominique Monfery, France/USA, 2003) 

Fast Film (Virgil Widrich, Austria/Germany/Luxembourg, 2003) 

Harvie Krumpet (Adam Elliot, Australia, 2003) 

Rocks / Das Rad (Chris Stenner, Arvid Uibel & Heidi Wittlinger, Germany, 2003) 

Voices of a Distant Star / Hoshi no koe (Makoto Shinkai, Japan, 2003) 

The Dream of an Old Oak / Quercus (Vuk Jevremovic, Germany, 2004) 

The Man With No Shadow / L’Homme sans ombre (Georges Schwizgebel, Canada/Switzerland, 2004) 

Ryan  (Chris Landreth, Canada, 2004)

Brothers Bearhearts / Vennad Karusüdamed (Riho Unt, Estonia, 2005) 

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (Anthony Lucas, Australia, 2005) 

The Danish Poet (Torill Kove, Norway/Canada, 2006) 

Dreams and Desires (Joanna Quinn, UK, 2006) 

The Legend of Shangri-La (Chen Ming, China, 2006) 

My Love / Moya lyubov (Aleksandr Petrov, Russia, 2006) 

Never Like the First Time! / Aldrig som första gången! (Jonas Odell, Sweden, 2006) 

Peter & the Wolf (Suzie Templeton, UK, 2006) 

Printed Rainbow (Gitanjali Rao, India, 2006) 

The Tale of How (The Blackheart Gang: Ree Treweek, Jannes Hendrikz & Markus Wormstorm, South Africa, 2006) 

Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor / Kafuka: Inaka isha (Koji Yamamura, Japan, 2007) 

False Aging (Lewis Klahr, USA, 2008) 

The House of Small Cubes / La Maison en Petits Cubes / Tsumiki no ie (Kunio Katô, Japan, 2008) 

My Childhood Mystery Tree (Natalia Mirzoyan, Russia, 2008) 

Orgesticulanismus  (Mathieu Labaye, Belgium, 2008) 

Skhizein (Jérémy Clapin, France, 2008) 

This Way Up (Adam Foulkes & Alan Smith, UK, 2008) 

Quimby the Mouse (Chris Ware, USA, 2009) 

Invention of Love (Andrey Shushkov, Russia, 2010) 

Pandane to Tamago-hime (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2010) 

Restart (Miao Xiaochun, China, 2010) 

The Silence Beneath the Bark / Le silence sous l'écorce (Joanna Lurie, France, 2010)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce & Brandon Oldenburg, USA, 2011)

Lee Price is the Director of Development at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (Philadelphia, PA). In addition, he writes a popular fundraising column for Public Libraries, writes a tourism/history blog called "Tour America's Treasures," and recently concluded two limited-duration blogs, "June and Art" and "Preserving a Family Collection."