Archive for November 18th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(France 1932 26m) DVD2 (France only)

Aka.  The Idea

A vision of purity

d  Berthold Bartosch  novel  Frans Masereel  m  Arthur Honegger

Eighty years on some writers have accused Berthold Bartosch’s celebrated animated short of naivety.  It certainly belongs to another age when merely a naked woman could draw such wrath from the various moral and legal authorities that it is seen to result in a war.  The notion of nudity as purity was not a new one to cinema.  Back in 1915 Lois Weber’s Hypocrites had shown a naked woman as quite simply ‘the naked truth’ and there were other examples through the silent era.  It finally crossed the channel and then the pond in 1934 just in time for the Hays Code crackdown so that it must to some amused onlookers have seemed like a prophecy come to life.  Animation in those cottage industry days was never so simple. 

            Take one look at the DVD cover (a French DVD but with part English artwork) in which fellow animation pioneers Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker discussed the work of Bartosch.  “L’Idée was animated on sheets of glass with wash-tinted blacks and with soap.  Some 100 watt light bulbs obliquely lighted Bartosch’s work bench from below and the light became irredescent in the soap, giving some marvellous effectsOne can hardly imagine how small his studio was – about 10 x 12 feet.  Half the space was filled with panes of glass which were layered into a sort of work bench.  Bartosch showed that animation could be poetic…It was Bartosch who first dared to give animation the dimensions of a great art, trusting it to voice his pain, to lay bare his heart, to tell of his hope for a better future – which he never saw.” (more…)

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