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Liam Peacock

Svankmajer and Harryhaussen are the
pioneers of modern fantasy film-making.
How has it evolved through them?
Item 1: Documentary,
v=e89U4ZD-Kvo (Jan Svankmajer, 2009). This is a very useful
source as it documents an interview with the director himself of his
early career as a puppeteer in theatres in Prague and how the Laterna
Magika (a combination of live-action film and stage performance)
converted him to the medium of film. This also gives an element of
history as it details the communist government of Czechoslovakia.
Svankmajer’s films were politically themed which means that they
were rarely shown in that region.
Item 2: Internet Website,
w-with-jan-352vankmajer/. This source was useful because it features
an interview with the animation director Jan Svankmajer. One of the
topics is about the political undertones of Alice. The scene ‘Alice’s
Evidence’ where the courtroom turns on Alice is the only segment of
the movie which does not represent the original script. This was
intended as an analogy for Eastern European politics in the 1950’s.
Item 3: Book, Animated Films by James Clarke. This source was
useful because it catalogues Svankmajer and Harryhaussen’s careers
side by side. How Svankmajer made short stop-motions leading to his
debut and most iconic feature Alice and how Harryhaussen inspired
generations of filmmakers such as Phil Tippet and Will Vinton with
Jason and the Argonauts and Return of the Jedi.

Liam Peacock

Item 4: Film, Dimensions of Dialogue. This is the best example of
Svankmajer stop-motion. It has the same qualities as a feature such as
Alice in that it utilizes the medium of surrealist stopmotion. It is one
of Svankmajer’s more famous films.
Item 5: Film, How to Bridge a Gorge. I have chosen this example of
Harryhaussen filmography because it was his film debut and the
significance of it being the first example of three-dimensional
animation which he pioneered.
Discarded Material:
Magazine Article, Free Falling (Sight & Sound). This is a very useful
source as it details how Miyazaki takes influence from Alice in
Wonderland in much the same way Svankmajer did. The main subject
of the article is Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, which details the dawn of
the technology of flight, which is a metaphor for determinism.

Presentation Script:
Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton are credited as creators of the first
stop-motion picture. Although this technique had been used in film
predating HDC, it is debatable as what constitutes as the first animation.
Unfortunately, the footage was never preserved, animation was generally
seen as a novelty and most never thought to preserve it. Some films were
intitially destroyed because the materials were expensive and production
companies wanted to use the vault space for fresh productions. However I
was able to find this accurate homage to the piece on YouTube. (Item 3)
Starevich was the first animator to give personalities to his characters.
Before the turn of the century, animation was typically used as nothing
but a special effect for movies. (Item 3)

Before television sets became common. In most households, people would
go to a theatre like building in order to see animations.

Liam Peacock

Classic animations did not typically have an in depth storyline so it didn’t
matter if someone walked in halfway through.

Most practical effects in movies were done using wires and jump-cuts.
More spectacular scenes were done using animation. (Item 3)

Et Cetera (Svankmajer, 1966)
When Svankmajer first began his career in animation his works were 2D
animations. Like most of this director’s early works Et Cetera has no
discernible plot and were very repetitive.
He branched out into feature length movies once gaining a cult following.
(Item 1)

How to Bridge A Gorge (Harryhausen, 1942)
An instructional video that teaches, through stop-motion animation, how
to build a bridge over a gorge that can hold heavy military equipment.
Harryhausen began his career making educational films using animation
as an illustrative tool before he was picked up by MGM Studios to assist in
the making of fantasy films in their special effects department. (Item 5)

Dimensions of Dialogue
In this film of Svankmajer the two busts begin by supplying each other
with what the other needs. This continues smoothly with various
combinations until they switch places. Then everything goes wrong and
they do not supply each other with what is needed. They switch places a
second time and unfortunately, each supply each other with the same
thing. They then begin withering. By the end, they have both collapsed in
exhaustion. This scene was intended as a social commentary on socialistic
ideology. (Item 4)

Svankmajer previously worked with drawing and collage. He had studied
puppetry, worked with the Semofor Theatre, the Cinohernl Klub and the
Laterna Magika before he came to film, to which he brought the methods
of a plastic artist.
Švankmajer is a Czech filmmaker who has influenced many other famous
filmmakers including the Brothers Quay, Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. His
work includes mostly stop – motion. He created many films including one
of his most famous work “Alice” (1988), a film based on Lewis Carroll’s

Liam Peacock

“Alice in Wonderland”. He is considered one of the most significant
directors of non-mainstream and experimental film animation. Major
influences on Švankmajer’s film style are Surrealism and Mannerism.
(Item 3)

Once upon a time, the entertainment industry had to get really creative
with their visual effects. Monsters were men in rubber suits and alien
worlds were hand-made sets built in a movie studio. For a while,
animatronics were even used to bring the otherwise impossible to life. But
without the advent of computer generated animation, today's live-action
movies would be completely unrecognizable. (Item 2)

Svankmajer and Harryhausen are best known for breathing life into giant,
writhing serpents, sword-wielding skeletons, and marauding dinosaurs in
such fantasy adventure and monster movies.
The fantasies of their stop-motion artistry inspired not only Peter Jackson,
but George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Tim Burton, Terry
Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro and countless other filmmakers. Even if the
success of their films -- particularly the trailblazing CGI dinosaurs
Spielberg employed in Jurassic Park (1993) -- ended stop-motion
animation forever. That said, Jurassic Park incorporated its fair share of
animatronic dinosaur heads and giant talons, which may explain why that
movie still stands up so well today.
But Ray Harryhausen's work endures. It contains gravity. Somewhere,
there is a 10-inch-high seven-headed hydra, or ape, or octopus, or Kraken,
or one of the seven skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts. And, to my
mind, in my mind's eye, that monster feels as if it could still tremble, and
walk, and come alive. (Item 2)