From Open Culture:
Terry Gilliam knows something about animation. For years, he produced wonderful animations for Monty Python (watch his cutout animation primer here) , creating the opening credits and distinctive buffers that linked together the offbeat comedy sketches. Given these bona fides, you don’t want to miss Gilliam’s list, The 10 Best Animated Films of All Time. It was published in The Guardian back in 2001, before the advent of YouTube, which makes things feel a little spare. So, today, we’re reviving Gilliam’s list and adding some videos to the mix. Above, we start with The Mascot, a 1934 film by the Russian animator Wladyslaw Starewicz. The film pioneered a number of stop animation techniques, making it a seminal film in the history of animation. About Starewicz’s film, Gilliam wrote:
His work is absolutely breathtaking, surreal, inventive and extraordinary, encompassing everything that Jan Svankmajer, Walerian Borowczyk and the Quay Brothers [see below] would do subsequently…. It is important, before you journey through all these mind-bending worlds, to remember that it was all done years ago, by someone most of us have forgotten about now. This is where it all began.
Tex Avery produced cartoons during the Golden Age of Hollywood animation, mostly for Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, and created some memorable characters along the way — Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Droopy dog and the rest. In 1943, Avery animated Red Hot Riding Hood, which amounted to a rebellious retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale. 50 years later, animators ranked it 7th on their list of The 50 Greatest Cartoons. According to Gilliam, Avery’s work delivers this:
The magic of Tex Avery’s animation is the sheer extremity of it all. The classic Avery image is of someone’s mouth falling open down to their feet, wham, their eyes whooping out and their tongue unrolling for about half a mile: that is the most wonderfully liberating spectacle…. There is also a childlike sense of immortality and indestructibility in his work; people get squashed, mashed, bashed, bent out of shape, whatever, and they bounce back. In essence, it is like the myth of eternal life.
During the mid-1950s, Stan Vanderbeek began shooting surrealist collage films that, as NPR put it, “used clippings from magazines and newspapers to create whimsical but pointed commentary.” If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. It’s precisely this approach that surfaces later in Gilliam’s own work. And if one film provided particular inspiration, it was Vanderbeek’s 1963 film Breathdeath (right above).
About Walerian Borowczyk and his 1964 film Les Jeux des Anges, Gilliam writes:
Borowczyk was a twisted man whose films were infused with a unique cruelty and weirdness. He started out making extraordinary animations, graduated to directing classics such as Goto, Island of Love and La B te… Les Jeux des Anges was my first experience of animation that was utterly impressionistic. It didn’t show me anything specific, just sound and movement from which you create a world of your own.
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