Highlights of British animation 1985 – Page 3

Dustbin Parade by Halas & Batchelor.

“Dustbin Parade” – 1942 from Halas and Batchelor was made to encourage the right attitude in war time. As someone who hated the way Britain’s were roused to war fervour during the Falklands crisis I found this film rather disturbing. The main character, a friendly little bone, is in effect being asked to commit suicide to become an ingredient for gunpowder. The film was well animated with style and humour and no doubt it got the required message over to the wartime cinema audiences. I would have preferred it if one of John Halas’s other many excellent films had been selected.

The much talked about titles from “The Charge of the Light Brigade” – 1968 were shown next. On these titles was founded the Richard Williams empire, at least that’s the way it seems to me.

The Flying Man.

I first saw “The Flying Man” – 1961, at the NFT in the sixties so it was nice to see it there again. The story it tells is as thought provoking as the semi-¬abstract figures presented in the animation. Its director George Dunning was widely influential to a whole new generation of animators.

Another film from John Halas, animated by Harold Whitaker was “Automania 2000” – 1963. This award-winning film, nominated for an Oscar, was the first ecologically conscious film to attack the motor car. At a time when the consumer society was in full flood, this film warned, albeit amusingly, of a world engulfed by the motor car, prophetic and witty.

A “Fairy Story” – 1968, from Tony Cattaneo showed what a marvellously ironic wit scriptwriter Stan Hayward has. It could be described as a one line gag film but the punch line was well worth waiting for. If you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil it for you by telling you the end. It is bound to come up on TV some time during the year of animation.

“Damon the Mower” – 1972, by George Dunning is a film that displays something of the craft of animation. The sheets of animation paper are pinned to what looks like a notice board and filmed in sequence. It demonstrates how the conventions of animation can be broken and yet still produce entertainment.

The drawings of Toulouse Leutrec are brought to life by animator Geoff Dunber in “Lautrec” – 1974, a visually brilliant film which captures the vitality of Lautrec’s work.

And to round off the show we were treated to the closing titles of “Great” with the I.K. Brunel steam ship sailing off into the distance. I suppose getting the highlights of British animation into a ninety minute programme is a bit like putting the Oxford English Dictionary into a pocket size edition, there is bound to be a lot left out. It does however provide a glimpse of what we have achieved over the years.

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Printed in Animator Issue 12 (Spring 1985)