Design, Animation, Narration: Rhoda Leyer; Supervising Editor and Director: Les Drew
From the National Film Board of Canada: “This short animated film illustrates the fable in which the warm sun proves to the cold wind that persuasion is better than force when it comes to making a man remove his coat.”
From Anime News Network: “Aesop is a trouble-making young boy who finds himself in another world filled with creatures he never believed to exist, such as fairies and talking donkeys. He sets off to find a way back to the normal world. On his journey he befriends many classical creatures from well-known fables and encounters many trials, each teaching him a valuable lesson.”
produced by Philips and Pearl & Dean; directed by Digby Turpin
Won the 1958 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film
This is an animated marketing short produced by the electronics conglomerate Philips, which tells the story (in a distinctive modern design style) of the development of the telecommunications industry. It begins back in ancient times when only Zeus could communicate over long distances, and both Zeus and Hermes make regular appearances throughout the film, watching approvingly as humans invent different mechanisms and technologies for transmitting messages: the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, the television, RADAR, and finally, satellites. The short concludes by noting that we have now “caught up with the gods” and ends with a nod to the company that has made much of this possible, Philips.
13 episodes; 30 min. each; German language (no subtitles)
Directed by Tony Munzlinger; written by Anton Zink; produced by Südwestfunk
Unterwegs mit Odysseus (Travelling with Odysseus) was a live-action, youth-oriented documentary TV series that followed ship captain, director and cartoonist Tony Munzlinger and his family on a sea voyage (on a boat called the ‘Odyssey’) as they re-traced the path of the hero from Troy to Ithaca. The live-action travel scenes were interspersed with hand-drawn animated segments by Munzlinger that retold the stories from Homer’s Odyssey in rhyme.
Gargamel fashions a giant wooden Papa Smurf statue that he intends to hide inside. He plans to have the Smurfs to find the statue and take it back to their village as a gift honoring their leader. Brainy falls for the ruse, but the Smurfs end up encountering many challenges in moving the statue to the village. After bouncing against sharp rocks and rolling down a hill, the statue falls into a river, where it is found by Bigmouth who adopts it as a toy doll. The Smurfs are able to retrieve it and present it to Papa Smurf, who expresses his suspicions about it. Gargamel and Azrael then jump out and try to grab some Smurfs, but they manage to push the villains back into the statue, tie a rope around it and abandon it in the forest, where Bigmouth finds and adopts it yet again.
This very short hand-drawn film depicts the Titan Prometheus as he struggles through time and space to bring fire to earth. He starts off young and full of vigor, accompanied by triumphant music, but by the end both he and the flame have aged. Will he succeed in his quest? The ending leaves it an open question.
The film recalls Jankovics’ earlier work, 1974’s ‘Sisyphus,’ which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Prometheus was a particularly potent figure in Soviet and Eastern Bloc art and culture — “Prometheus” was a popular name for bookstores in the USSR. He was characterized as a hero who fought against the gods in order to help mortals, who valued humanity more than himself, and who was tortured and suffered for his good deeds. The fire he brought to Earth was usually interpreted as the fire of knowledge and he was understood as fighting for equal rights for all, like a believer who longs for the coming of world communism (see also the animated films ‘Prometheus’ (1974) and ‘The Return from Olympus’ (1969) by Alexandra Snezkho-Blotskaya). Prometheus also taught people skills–for example, how to work with stone–and because of this he was viewed as an advocate for the working classes.
And yet, as a figure of revolt or resistance, he was also embraced by those who opposed the communist regime: for example, Prometheus was the name of a Russian underground avant-garde video art collective from the 1970s, while Prometheism was an important social movement in the early 20th c. that supported nationalist independence movements among non-Russian peoples living within Russian borders, which was crushed by Stalin’s purges. This duality made him a potent symbol as he could both uphold or destabilize dominant communist values.
6 min.; 138th animated short in the Woody Woodpecker series.
Directed by Paul J. Smith; produced by Walter Lantz Productions and distributed by Universal International.
(Note: video is dubbed into French)
In this short, Woody upsets the emperor Nero by interrupting his fiddle-playing, but then Nero is inspired to play the Woody Woodpecker theme song. Woody then antagonizes Nero by smashing his fiddle, so a guard and a lion are ordered to do away with the pesky bird. Of course, Woody finds many ways to outsmart the two and he ends up sitting on the throne and fiddling in Nero’s place, wearing laurels and a toga.
55 min; Mexico; Spanish language with no subtitles
Director: Carlos G. Groppa / Solene Films
This film is the earliest animated depiction of the Odyssey that I have discovered thus far. It is an obscure, low-budget puppet version, which presents a loose recounting of the epic accompanied by psychedelic imagery and a swinging soundtrack.
Groppa was an Argentinian writer and filmmaker who emigrated to Mexico in 1971 where he participated in the production of the television series La Novela Semanal: Grandes Obras de la Literatura Universal de Canal 13, adapting classic novels in ten chapters, before moving on to work on La Odisea de los Muñecos between 1972 and 1974.
This short animated film is preserved in the historic archives of the Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo. This interpretation of Aesop’s classic fable was produced by the Association of Italian Savings Banks (Associazione fra le Casse di Risparmio Italiane) and served as a kind of “public service announcement” to promote the idea of saving and budgeting to the Italian people.
In this modernized re-telling, the anthropomorphized insects work industrialized agricultural jobs and sell their goods at market, then deposit their earnings in the bank. Meanwhile, the grasshopper parties at a nightclub. In the end he is unable to buy Christmas gifts for his family and is left out in the cold.