There is a beautiful copy of George Pal’s advertising short Philips Broadast of 1938 currently available on the Europa Film Treasures site. It’s almost overwhelming to see animation that’s so fun, so colorful, so individualistic and so stylish. This was produced exactly seventy years ago, yes, SEVENTY years ago, and yet it feels as fresh and contemporary as anything being produced today. Case in point: a musician on YouTube put one of his tracks over the film. While the music isn’t timed to the animation beats, this simple experiment drives home how well the animation holds up in contemporary times.
What is most amazing is that George Pal managed to achieve these wondrous results through an archaic replacement animation technique that involved carving thousands of individuals puppets. One could well assume that today’s vastly superior and powerful technologies would be capable of producing even more spectacular imagery, and yet we end up swimming in gobs of the insipid and uninspired. At the end of the day, tools are besides the point. Animation such as Pal’s requires something more…it requires elements that have been largely absent from mainstream animation for many years: the imagination of an artist and an understanding of the possibilities of the medium.