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Studies and research: contributions on zagreb animation

Animated Commercial Films Produced by Zagreb Film

Zagreb Film’s films belong to the golden period of Croatian culture of the 60s and the early 70s when Zagreb became the international cultural centre obtaining the organisation of the international exhibition of New Trends and the Musical Biennale (festival of new music), IFSKA (International Festival of Student Theatres), and GEFFA (festival of experimental film).
The production of Zagreb Film is so extensive and qualitatively special that it deserves its own museum, which would, if it existed, be an important part of Croatia’s visual art culture and its history. Special place in this opus hold animated and commercial films made for domestic and foreign commissioners by the most significant authors of the Zagreb School of Animated Film.

Unfortunately, when I started researching animated commercial films produced by Zagreb Film, that is to say in 1971, most of the documentation had already vanished, as well as the drawings, foils and films, moreover, even the lists of films were not complete. Copies of the commercial films made for foreign companies, of which some have won international awards, were never made. It is a great loss since these animated commercial films by Zagreb Film are not significant only because of the way they were made, but also because they testify to the values of visual arts of the time they were produced in.

The analysis of animated commercial films reveals that there were several approaches to the realization of the commercial message, on which depended its visual characteristics.

In some examples, mostly the early ones, the characteristics of the product that was sold were not linked with the visual representation or the story line. It appeared only at the end as a factor of resolution and surprise. The action was narrative, mostly quick and action-like with realistic details and the characterization of characters subject to the content of the film.

In the second type of films, particularities of the product that was sold made the content or the theme. They were incorporated in the structure of the film determining the course and the action. The message about the product value was obtained with the method of trying out and failing, or in other words, it became the basis for the turnover, where the good or the quality of the product would win or bring salvation. Action in such films was narrative, and the sketches realistic.
The point of interest of the third type of the films was the developmental movement of visual elements instead of the story or the product itself.

The characteristics of the product were an excuse to make a film that was not bound with the dramaturgy of classical narration, on the contrary, they built a structure that was subject to the demands of rhythmically measured continual movements, visual effects and gags, in which details became independent and the basis for creation of visual sensations that were often the cause of the authentic optical happening. In just a few seconds a number of sketches with visual events flew over the screen, along with fragmentary events dispersed in its space in every direction, often creating an abstract optical sensation attractive for its own visual qualities, and not for representing realistic and narrative contents associated with the product.

Some commercial films followed the trends in the field of contemporary graphics design, especially pop-art and psychedelic art, introducing in the commercials the ability of characters and objects to transform into each other, as well as visual sensations based on vibrations and flickering of forms and colours.

Using rhythm, visual gags, visual sensations and sublimated messages like visual graphic stenography, animated commercial was the most dynamic form of graphically presented information. Overlapping, repetition, superposing pictures, non-linear, non-sequential sequence of information, and especially conciseness of the messages turned out to be very receptive to the children and thus would influence the introductory animated sequences of children’s TV shows, becoming the basis for development of perceptive abilities of the viewers.

Marijan Susovski

Little Man on the Borderline of Worlds

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