Remember the time when your little siblings or offspring were watching a “cartoon film” and you got stuck with the brightly colored movements and catchy music for a few minutes? Hard as it is to believe, there are a lot of reasons to get attached to the animated films, more commonly known as cartoon films. And there are an awful lot of people who ignore a fantastically huge and dynamic world of animation accusing it as “childish”.
Now what an animation really is? "Animation” is discovered from the Latin name anima, the "animating principle", the vital force inside every living creature.
Contrary to many people’s belief, animation can really shift from a surreal world to reality. Many people, as you might have noticed deem it to be “childish” or something to that effect saying animation cannot capture important subjects like politics and society. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word “animation”, as we can see, is the vital force inside every living creature, so the word itself makes us consider that we might get some ‘life’ out of it, so to speak!
Surprisingly enough, the 1st animated film was released in 1917. The Argentine film named El Apostól was a satire, with the President of Argentina ascending to the heavens to use Jupiter's thunderbolts to cleanse Buenos Aires of immorality and corruption and resulting in having a burnt city. It was made utilizing cutout animation which is replaced by computerized animation nowadays. The only known print of this film was destroyed on a fire and it is now considered as a lost film.
The mega mind of the animated film industry, The Walt Disney Company, started its’ journey at the silent era of movies. And before the joining of Pixer in 1995, they had an almost free reign to rule. They released their first feature-length animated film in 1937 named Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, after 3 years of works on it.
Though the long line of films based on fairy tales starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is still going on with the latest Disney production Frozen (2013), the themes and characters of animated movies changed dramatically since the 50s’. Before that, animated films were more or less the visual version of the stories of prince charming and a perfect princess with a heart breaking bad luck attached to her. The movies always ended with a “happily ever after”. No wonder they were made for the little ones! But the scenario started changing with the release of Bambi (1942), the story of a stag’s life in the wild.
As time flew, the themes changed from magic and fairy grandmothers to emotions and relationships like love and friendship. And the leading characters changed from prince and princess to about anything else. Keeping the animal behavior based experiments upright; animated movie makers released some movies through the decades. Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Lion king (1994), A Bug’s Life (1998) and Finding Nemo (2003) presented some successful appearances of non-human beings as heroes and heroines on screen.
But this trend did not stop there. Eventually the think tanks started projects on human- animal relationship which gave out an amazing number of movies loved by the viewers immensely. This new era started with The Jungle Book (1967); and Tarzan (1999) boosted it to the next level. While Ratatouille (2007) showed the friendship between a boy and a mouse; the duo fighting for the famous saying “anyone can cook”,
Rio (2011) portrays a Blue Macaw who is the best friend of a human girl for 15 years and the dramatic incidents through which he gets back home, to the jungle.
A single movie shocked the average movie lovers who thought animated movie was the other name of fun, in 1988. The best ever anti-war movie in animated form was released for public eyes. The plot of this movie, The Grave of the Fireflies, revolved around Japan during the 2nd World War. Based on a true incident, the movie unfolded the story of Seita, a preteen boy and his sister setsuko, a girl of about 4years. Losing their mother on an air raid and their father fighting the war made them responsible for their own lives. The movie started with the seemingly pleasant siblings taking care of each other as they waited for the war to end and their father to be back. But as the time went on, life became a war for them. They had to fight against hunger, poverty and the inhumanly living they had to endure. Eventually setsuko became very sick and died out of hunger and malnutrition. Her brother starved from that day on and died a few days later clutching a tin to his chest which once contained chocolates for his sister and now contained her ashes.
The new millennium introduced two new genres of animated movies. The 1st one was based on not-so-childish horror stories with all the necessary qualities like goose bumps and nail biting tensions. The best films of this style so far are Spirited Away (2001), Corpse Bride (2005), The Nightmare before Christmas (2006) and Coraline (2009).
The 2nd one was the Sci-fi genre. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001), Wall- E (2008) and the very latest one Mars Needs Mom (2011) gave the taste of the outer space and the future world to the ultimate level.
Probably the most recent twist in the universe of animation is the villain protagonist tendency; in other words, as they say, “giving bad a good name”. Some of the recent movies are trying to convey a message that, just because you are named as bad, just because everyone else think you are a freak, does not mean you have to be one. These movies ask questions like, “why the villains are always villains? Why there can be no good things in them?” As answers, there came movies like Shrek (2001), where the basic fairy tale rule was reversed and an ogre was portrayed as a romantic lover and caring friend. Mega Mind (2010) featured the officially accepted villain of Metro city who suddenly understood that he did not have to be the bad guy after all; he can save the day, fly off into the sunset, and get the girl! And last but certainly not the least, Despicable Me (2010) with the story of a man believing in his badness to win the challenging post of the patented super villain. His world got upside down almost literally as he found out how magically lovable father he was!
Animation can be all things to all people. But perhaps the most beautiful aspect of animation in the 20th century was the reinvention of the fairy tale. In an age of science and reason, animators brought the world of magic and fable to life in entirely new ways. And of course there are few modern achievements as innocent, imaginative and joyous as the animator's art. Versatile as these films might be, they can also do unimaginable things to you. Do not want to admit you still have those non-profitable, silly beliefs in you? Watch Tinker Bell and you will know, you are still the 10 years old deep inside who wants to believe that there is a very special fairy caring for you, helping you through every tough spot so that you can make your life magical.