DOLLS Become ACTORS (Dec, 1939)

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DOLLS may replace drawings as actors in animated cartoon movies if the idea developed by three Italian brothers proves successful. The present way of making such films, the best example of which is Walt Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, is to shoot thousands of drawings separately and then piece them together so that the subjects appear to move when projected.

To remove the need for a drawing of each movement of a character, the brothers decided to use dolls in miniature settings. Filming procedure is the same but the cost is less. By this method they have taken Jakob Ludwig Karl Grimm’s old fairy tale, The Seven Ravens, and turned it into an interesting movie.

In the picture, several scenes of which are shown in accompanying photos, the story tells of an old man who had seven sons but no daughters. At last a girl was born, but she was so small and delicate she had to be christened at home. Her brothers were sent for water to baptize their newborn sister, but in their hurry they dropped the jug. Whereupon their father cursed them, saying, “May you all turn into ravens!”

Years later the daughter learns she is the cause of her brothers’ fate and that they live in the Glass Mountain. Seeking them, she grows tired and falls asleep in the forest A prince finds her, and their marriage delights his people, but her silence baffles him.

She is tried as a witch when her own sons turn into ravens and is condemned to die at the stake, but she remains silent, for to free her brothers she cannot speak a word for seven years. Previously the princess had taken care of an old blind man and his daughter. They demand her release, and at that moment her seven-year spell is over. Her brothers, restored to human form, rescue her and bring back her sons.

  1. StanFlouride says: April 21, 20097:38 am

    No mention of the animators’ names!

  2. Firebrand38 says: April 21, 20098:34 am

    The Diehl Brothers…

  3. Firebrand38 says: April 21, 200910:12 am

    Here is a clip on YouTube in the original German…

  4. Eli says: April 21, 200911:02 am

    Stop-motion animation (which I’m assuming is what the article is talking about; I’d love to know why the writer thought a three-paragraph summary of a fairy tale was more interesting to his readers than anything at all about the filming technique he was purportedly writing about) was most certainly *not* an idea developed by the Diehls in 1939. The earliest stop-motion film was “The Cameraman’s Revenge” (…), filmed in 1912 by Ladislaw Starewicz.

    Also, the claim that “the cost is less” is rather unlikely.

  5. Rick Auricchio says: April 21, 20098:20 pm

    If it weren’t for Starewicz, we’d never have had “Mr. Bill.”

  6. jayessell says: April 21, 20099:55 pm


  7. Firebrand38 says: April 21, 200911:10 pm

    Not exactly…..

  8. William Deering says: April 22, 20099:09 am

    Note this is a name transition issue from Modern Mechanix to Mechanix Illustrated. At the bottom of pages 56 – 57: “Mechanix Illustrated – December, 1939 formerly Modern Mechanix”.

  9. Charlie says: April 22, 20099:24 am

    William, actually the first issue after the name change was 6-1938: http://blog.modernmecha…

  10. McTodd says: January 2, 20127:54 am

    Ladislaw Starewicz was a great pioneer of stopmotion animation, and he certainly advanced the art, but he was by no means the first, not by many years. Georges Melies (who else?) apparently made the first stopmotion animated film in 1897 when he made an advertisement using animated alphabet-blocks to spell the advertiser’s name. And in 1898, James Stuart Blackton (more famous for his early miniature effects work when he depicted the Battle of Manila Bay in a paddling pool) made The Humpty Dumpty Circus, regarded as the first stopmotion animated film to tell a story.

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