Fantasmagorie (1908) Review

Fantasmagorie (1908) Director: Émile Cohl

Fantasmagorie (Cohl).GIF


Fantasmagorie is a stream-of-consciousness silent cartoon film that uses stop-motion techniques pioneered in America. It was produced for the Gaumont Company in France. The title of the film is a nod to the fantasmograph, a 19th century device that predated modern movie-making. Émile Cohl drew the objects in the film on hundreds of drawings on white backgrounds, and then released the film by flipping the colors to negative.

Fantasmagorie film is a unique, hand-drawn, absurdist cartoon –t is considered the first animated film. It consists of a stick-figure clown as he experiences various odd situations. Objects randomly transform into various other objects or characters, such as a bottle turning into an elephant. Several times, Mr. Cohl’s hands appear to change the cartoon, as they break the fourth wall.

Émile Cohl (1857-1938) was an early film animator. He produced a wide variety of films as part of the “Incoherent Movement,” an early and short-lived French movement that predated the latter avant-garde movement. Fantasmagorie is a remarkable film, no doubt. It is now freely available to watch online as it has entered the public domain.

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