The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
The Tale of the Fox (1930)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Gullivers Travels (1939)
Yellow Submarine (1968)
Fantastic Planet (1973)
Watership Down (1978)
The Lord of the Rings (1978)
Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
A Grand Day Out (1989)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Lion King (1994)
Toy Story (1995)
Princess Mononoke (1997)
In 1927 a young Walt Disney attended a screening of The Jazz Singer. Up until then, he had barely gotten by with his animation company, and he had just lost the rights to his character Oswald the Rabbit. He was developing a new character, this time a mouse, and thought maybe this new synch sound technology could be his golden ticket.
He and animator Ub Iwerks had already made two films starring Mickey Mouse, but they didn’t do so hot with test audiences, so Walt decided to throw their efforts into a new film, Steamboat Willie. When the film debuted in November of 1928, Mickey whistled, laughed, and played a cow’s teeth like a xylophone. Audiences loved it, and a new star was born.
Mickey and friends have played a dominant role in animation since then, but Disney came from a long line of animators before him. Georges Melies laid some of the groundwork with his special effects experiments. J. Stuart Blackton expanded the technique by combining stop-motion drawing with live action. Blackton produced The Enchanted Drawing in 1900, and then Humorous Phases of Funny Faces in 1906. The next year he produced The Haunted Hotel,which was mostly live action, but contained one particularly impressive stop-motion sequence of dishes on a table preparing a meal themselves.
Emile Cohl created his Phantasmagorie in 1908 and was the first to draw frame by frame animation to make the characters look like they are moving. Winsor McCay took things a step further with Little Nemo, Gertie the Dinosaur, and eventually the stunning Sinking of the Lusitania in 1918, which took him nearly two years to complete.
Other notable early animated works include The Cameraman’s Revenge by Ladislav Starevich, Koko the Clown by Max Fleischer, and Felix the Cat by Otto Messmer. During this time, Walt Disney’s early animation company had gone bankrupt, and he moved to California to start over.
Even though Disney’s name is now synonymous with animation, most of us have never actually seen anything drawn by Walt. By the time he created Mickey Mouse, he left the drawing and animating up to others. But, he had a knack for a good story and constantly demanded new innovative techniques from his productions. Some of the technologies pioneered by Disney include:
There were plenty of other animators and studios out there besides Disney, far too many to cover in one chapter. But here are five more you should definitely check out:
Chuck Jones: How to Draw Bugs Bunny
Norman McLaren: Begone Dull Care, Neighbors
Jan Svankmajer: Breakfast
Hayao Miyazaki: Miyazaki Tribute
John Lasseter: Luxo Jr.