17 August 1908 – Fantasmagorie
On this day in history, 17 August 1908 to be exact, what is considered to be the world’s first animated cartoon, was released. Fantasmagorie is a French animated film by graphic artist, Émile Cohl. Made up out of 700 drawings, it is one of the earliest examples of traditional, hand drawn animation and took Cohl approximately 4 months to create.
Fantasmagorie is done in a “stream of consciousness” style, which is a narrative mode exploring the copious amounts of different thoughts and feelings which moves through the mind. The film shows the delightful little stick man character, Fantoche, morphing from one situation into the next. Cohl drew each image in black onto an illuminated glass plate, after which he would stencil in the next image on top of the previous on with variations. He ended up drawing 700 images. Each frame was shot on negative. The negative then got reversed which gave it a white on black chalkline effect.
The film has little narrative and is one minute and 16 seconds long. In fact, this short film, went on to change the course of film history forever. When watching it today, one might find it a bit trivial and odd, but never the less it is seen as the very first full length animation and opened the door to the magical world of animation and all the characters we have come to know and love over the years..