The silent era was a period linking 1980 and 1930. It was characterized by implausible improvement in sound technology. This revolutionized the fast growing cinema industry.
The art of animation was noticeable during this period since it moved from canvas picture presentations to live acts. Human beings wore adorned costumes bearing insects and animal resemblance. Several actors and directors are credited with this evolution. These include Wladyslaw Starewicz and Walt Disney. This paper compares and contrasts the lives and works of these individuals since they are the animation kings of the twentieth century.
“Wladyslaw Starewicz was born in Poland in the late 1800s” (Wladislaw [sic] Starewicz: Animation Pioneer par 1).
Several variations of the accounts of his early living exist. He studied at the institution of “Fine Arts in St Petersburg in Russia” in the early 1900s (Wladislaw [sic] Starewicz: Animation Pioneer par 1). After his studies, he commenced his work as an animator. Starewicz claims to have started his animation work while operating as an administrator at a museum. According to Walt Disney “Walt Disney was born on 5 December 1901 in Chicago Illinois, USA”. As a small boy, the family moved to Missouri, which is reputed to have the muse and replica for the focal street of Disneyland. There is where he started going to school and first expressed the feel and aptitude for artistry through painting with crayons and watercolors. Despite of his unclear backgrounds, by 1910 Starewicz started to make motion pictures that the world had not witnessed.
He utilized his knowledge and in-depth interest in insects to make movies that starred the denizens of the natural world in Aesopian style moral fables (Wladislaw [sic] Starewicz: Animation Pioneer). However, Walt was still a boy aiding his father with his newspaper business while studying cartooning with a correspondence institute before later taking up classes at the “Kansas City Art Institute” (Walt Disney). In 1919, he combined with a fellow artist with whom they made the first animated commercial clip (Walt Disney).
The earlier work done by these two artists had different levels of triumph. From their 1922 studio, Disney and his friend Iwerks made a succession of vivacious caricature sketches called “laugh-O-grams” and a first film, “Alice in Cartoon land,” which were not successful (Lehman 24). The failure of these two releases made him file for bankruptcy and greatly cast a shadow on his memorable vocation as a film director. Starewicz had a very impressive start to his career.
He had several short releases but first among them is the appealing and technically imposing hilarious film The Cameraman’s Revenge. This film, released long before WWI, is considered a masterpiece of the pioneer stop, film industry (Wladislaw Starewicz: Animation Pioneer). “The Cameraman’s Revenge”, which focuses on the animated Mr. and Mrs. Beetles idolatry and their final reunion for life in a penitentiary, is not only hilarious but also educative (Lehman 12).
This is an example of Starewicz fearless urge to both entertain and educate the public about the ills afflicting the society. Concurrently, most of Disney’s releases such as the Skeleton Dance were purely entertaining. In particular, this film proved costly due to the need for more complex drawings and technical jobs required. Disney was a dreamer who expressed his dreams and imaginations through art.
However, it is worth noticing that most of his gains went to the next project, which in turn financed the next one. Disney work was to achieve his imagination, implement it in practice, and achieve a given level of profit. Contrary to this, Starewicz, who led a noble life, did not find pleasure in big profits.
He derived pleasure from the satisfaction of his viewers and the society. According to Lehman (14), in the mid and late 1920, animators drew most of their themes and stories from traditional African American than any other race in the US. In addition to this, studios also used the blackface design for transmutation gags for animal stars and well-liked complementary songs that drew laughter at the expense of the African Americans. This technique also included the use of many unrefined and rudimentary jokes carrying ethnic and anti-semiotic undertones. Mickey mouse, the black face musical actor of Disney’s was no exemption.
This is a show of a greater disregard and lack of approval of some races. This is not present in any of the works done by Starewicz. He also enjoyed success before the invention of sound in motion picture, and his use of natural lighting and real-world scale to represent the scenes were perfect such that the story played along harmoniously. The inclusion of sound in the animated films was a welcoming joy to many in the 1928s.
It provided an avenue for commercial ventures at the expense of the audience. According to Lehman, (16), many distributors insisted that films characterize tunes owned by them. A good example is the “Old Folks at Home performed in Mickey’s Follies in 1929 and Dan Emmet’s “Dixie”, in Mickey’s Choo-Choo of 1929” (Lehman16). While this provided a good accompaniment to film, it shifted the noble animation industry to more of a commercial venture aiming at huge profits through promotion of music. This was a different path from the one envisioned by many like Starewicz. Lehman, 16) emphasized the fact that despite the retrogressive impact of the use of blackface and traditional African tunes was to the African American, it played a very important role in commemorating the release of the African Americans from bondage.
It also helped cement the position of the Africans as solid constituents of the American society. After WWI, while working in France, he continued to work on stop-motion puppetry films, mainly children stories featuring animals involved in brave moralistic endeavors through out the silent era. The silent era sow a period in which the economic depression affected the whole world, stretching from Americans the European countries. The only places that still afforded families some comfort was the cinemas. In Europe, Starewicz work such as “The Tale of the Fox” was instrumental by offering words of encouragement to their audience.
These two icons of stop motion are arguably the giants on which successive directors of animation movies today stand.
According to Lehman (14), many cinema audiences are weary that few genres can still inculcate blameless conjecture that welcomed the nickelodeons. The stop film is still an exception owing to the great work by two pioneers. It is needless to state that Disney stood on the shoulders of Starewicz. This is evident in his blameless work, long before works by Disney were presented to the animation film audience.
Lehman, Christopher. The colored cartoon.
Massachusetts, MA: Massachusetts Press, 2007.Print Wladislaw Starewicz: Animation Pioneer. Box office prophets .2002. Web.
23rd September. 2011. Walt Disney.
Biography . 2011. Web. 23rd Sep 2011