Humorous Sketch and Movement (First Part)
In the history of film animation the appearance of the film Fantasmagorie, made by Émile Cohl in 1908, is an event that can be compared to the importance of Griifith’s Intolerance, 1916, for the feature film. In this film we could see for the first time an animation metamorphosis as a continuous transition into a different form. An animated character in the form of a man-match, Fantoche, appeared for the first time. Finally, Cohl is the first man to decide to work on film animation on a professional level. In his seventeen years long active career, Cohl created the basis of film animation. Cohl established technological, esthetical and genre methods as well as principles of the animated film. He made a puppet-film Le tout petit Faust in 1910; he made other object animation films such as Les Allumetes animées in 1908; as well as a diagram animation in La Bataille d’Austerlitz in 1909. He combined different animation techniques in one film as well as live and animated images in the film Clair de lune espagnol in 1909. Cohl introduced a caricaturally stylized sketch. He took over and further developed semantic and esthetic principles formed in his caricatures and comic strips and created his own poetics. Cohl’s favorite and most typical method of animated effects were the sequences of metamorphoses where images rapidly amalgamated from moving lines. After that, they were decomposed and turned into a completely different image. This idea was obviously a continuation of the technique that Cohl used in his transformation comic strips.
Cohl is an artist born within the French caricature of the 19th century. The central proposition of the essay is that precisely within the humorous sketch, and primarily within its central segment which is the caricature, during the period of its development from the protocaricature of the late Middle Ages to its use in the media of the late 19th and early 20th century, is where the conditions for the formation of a language and esthetics of the revived sketch matured. Caricature is not only the basis for other forms of humorous sketch and comic strip but it has also announced a new visual medium, the film animation.