About us
Croatian film


Animation Film Viewpoint on "Film Realism"

Since the beginnings of film, realism represented the highest ideal and the greatest illusion of the new medium. L. Feuillade, Jean Vigo, John Grierson, Dziga Vertov or C. Zavattini are only a few of the great film authors who thought that primary task of film was to represent reality, what it allegedly was like. Many leading theoreticians of film, first and foremost Andre Bazin, firmly believed in the power of photography and its ability to represent reality directly, without any mediation. Even film tricks developed as a helping tool in the service of the so-called ’film realism’. Ever since the times of the pioneer George Melies, the tradition of film trick has been based on the idea that ’every illusion created on the screen has its ontological roots in some realistic event registered by the camera’.

The theory of moving pictures being a realistic reflection of life proved to be a total failure. Theoreticians have completely disregarded a whole film species, the one that most frequently creates most poetic results — animation. Animation has never hid its artificial nature and film images in animated films have always been openly considered as presentations of the artist’s inner, that is to say, private ’realism’. The animation was always a clear negation of the realistic theory. However, a great number of film theoreticians do not consider animation as a film medium. Language of animation is associated with graphics (which is ’unreal’ in itself), while film language is associated with photography (the medium of ’realism’) so that according to the late theoretician Dušan Stojanović from Beograd, animation should be considered in the context of visual arts.

However, there is not a single proof that photography is ’more realistic’ than a drawing or graphics. Furthermore, even the most simplified definition of film animation cannot omit the fact that animation is dealing with ’images moving with the help of the film technique’. The identical definition can also be applied to all other film forms. The only questionable difference between a motion picture or a documentary and animation is that in the latter the camera is working with units: exposing frame by frame of film, so that the movement is constructed, instead of using one already existing in the nature.

However, even this method is no longer characteristic only of animated film because the introduction of computer animation in the editing of motion pictures erases all differences. If instead of film, we use a much broader term: the art of moving pictures, there are no more misunderstandings between the terms motion picture/documentary and animation. Animation in all its forms (animated film, collage, puppet film, flicker film...), as well as all other film sub-genres (motion picture, documentary, experimental film...), including television and video are integral parts of the whole named moving pictures. Animation is a type of moving pictures whose source is the time molecule, film frame or electronic flicker.

It is true that animation is a form that often uses artificial, preconceived and constructed movement instead of taking and transferring movements from the nature. This particularity singles animation as a special type of moving pictures, however, it does not exclude it from other film genres. Therefore, animation is film. The fact is that animation expresses the spirit of time and the ideas of world and life (’realism’ and ’truths’) and reflects them as much as do the other genres of the moving pictures. As any other art, animation conserved the dominant messages, ideas, faith and aspirations existing in a particular time and space. It has embodied historical ’realistic’ and ’fictional’ contents just as any motion picture or a documentary.

Despite the fact that animation represents the oldest form of moving pictures, due to the utopia of ’film realism’, it remains the least explored film form. A growing interest in animation in the last decade is faced with difficulties in film studios where the situation reminds of uncharted wilderness. For this same reason, on the other hand, animation may be the only film genre left from which we could still expect some amazing discoveries and exciting surprises.

Midhat Ajanović

Movement Illusion in Film — Myths and Explanations
Conspiracy as a Genre
The Visible and the Invisible in John Ford’s Films

View other articles in this edition...


new edition

Web Statistics