Animation – A World History
is now available.
It is a three-tome, 1456 page, CRC Press (Taylor and Francis Group) hardbound book, ISBN 113894307X, 9781138943070.
I fell in love with film and its language when I was very young. I was curious and asked many questions to myself. What visual language could be more free than one that would provide images, without borrowing them from the real world? Also, if literature, music, painting counted story-less short forms (like respectively the sonnet, or the nocturne, or the miniature), why cinema shouldn’t? The result of my quest was the animated short film.
I made some experiments in my twenties, and they were far from encouraging. Then I realised that writing animation history and criticism was creative and rewarding enough for me… I don’t mean economically rewarding.
I have an MA in law, but never was a lawyer. As an animation specialist, I had masters, not professors. People whom I admired, and whose example and opinions were meaningful to me. Alexandre Alexeieff, the artist who made A Night on Bald Mountain; Max Massimino-Garniér, the Italian screenwriter; Robert Edmonds, the Chicagoan film professor. And then books, books, books.
No, it’s not true. As a scholar I did little research in the libraries only because few contracts, letters, newspapers witness the facts of such a neglected production. Primary sources were basically available only via field work. Therefore I chose the approach of the cultural anthropologists: I lived among animators, was on friendly terms with them, asked questions in confidence.
Giorgio Vasari was better than me – and Michelangelo, Raphael and the others were greater than my animators… Having said that, it is true that I mingled with animators from all over the world, interviewed them, visited them at home or in their studios, collected documents and information from their very hands. It’s research in life recording, it’s saving information before destruction. Some of those people became lifelong friends, like Bruno Bozzetto. Some were brothers/masters, like Alexandre Alexeieff. Most of them were warm acquaintances, people whom I admired for their integrity, intelligence, kindheartedness, generosity. When I go to an animation festival, I’m happy because I’ll be meeting some old friends, and I’ll be meeting some new friends as well!
Just the opposite: I adore Walt Disney. Without him we wouldn’t have animation at all. Without his experiments we would have a very poor visual and musical language of animation. But I am a film critic, and I must discuss Walt Disney the way I discuss (say) Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Warner, or Greta Garbo. About him, instead, there is kind of a religion: either you are a believer, or you are a renegade.