Monday, October 29, 2007

Animation's Direct Influence From Silent Actors

Of all the famous characters that have been established in Animation, Felix the Cat was the original success story of comic art to superstar. This success can be credited much to how he was marketed and how the audience received his silent humor on screen. Much of his success has been credited directly to many of the panamime actions he performs, and of course the clever metamorphoses Felix performs by transforming his tail into a variety of objects for use in his adventures. In early silent films, the success of the film depends largely on the success of the silent performance of the actor, their facial gesture, and interaction with their stage environment. With Felix, we find an equaled success in the facial and silent panamime he performs, but find that with animation, Felix is able to manipulate his environment and surroundings based of the comic metamorphoses he performs, giving the character a unique fantasy-like comic ability that no live-action actor could effectively attempt to mimic. In this particular short film of Felix, "Felix Goes To Hollywood", we see the character directly interpret the actions of Chaplin in an animated run-in of sorts. The cartoon finds a way to visually poke fun of the influential ideas and personalities that were derived to form Felix's character in a sort of visual pun. The scene shows Felix humorously chased from an acting studio for "Stealing" some of Chaplin's material to make it big in a Hollywood acting studio. What should be noted of this cartoon, is that aside from soundtrack, all motions are conveyed silent to convey story and mood, as presented in early silent live-action cinema. Although some thoughts seem to be expressed through comic "thought-bubbles", it is the silent actions we are studying and their effectiveness in the performance of Felix and the ability to convey messages through silent gestural character animation. I think it is equally important as well to note the facial gestures of Harry Langdon and how facial gestures are used in characters in effective ways throughout the film as exaggerated gestural representations of emotion. For a direct reference to the Felix/Chaplin scene, scroll into the clip till 6:40.

2 comments:

Tim said...

It appears the "Video Player" layout for You Tube and the blog are different so for the Felix/Chaplin scene, scroll into the film until the counter reads -2:50...... cool :)

Arjun said...

Tim,

This is really, great. Nice stuff.

Arjun