In a previous post, we mentioned that we had seen very stylishly-cool stills of Cowboy Jimmy and the Oscar-winning Surogat in an animation book, and wanted to get hold of some 1950’s-1960’s animated shorts by Dusan Vukotic and The Animation School of Zagreb.
… born after the Second World War, together with the foundation of the new production Company, Zagreb Film. The Zagreb School’s aim is to produce something that crops up straight from the culture of its own country.
As for their graphics, they refer to an aesthetics influenced by the Surrealist art.
Therefore, while the traditional animation tries to reproduce life, in the most realistic way, the Zagreb School prefers bidimensional figures and spaces, drawn as sketches.
Even the contents they deal with are rather original; indeed, their works are about socially committed themes such as violence, sex and loneliness. (link)
Amid responded to our post by sending us a DVD of some of these rare films: The Happy Robot, Cowboy Jimmy, Great Fear, Concerto for SubMachine Gun & Piccolo.
The shorts are a visual treat – all without dialogue and animated to modern jazz. Perhaps because we have been conditioned to accept the frenetic pace of US Saturday morning cartoons as the norm, the humor and pacing of these Eastern European cartoons at times seemed very drawn-out and slow. Nevertheless, the layouts were beautiful and amazing in their monochromatic simplicity, with stylized characters moving like abstract shapes.
Our favorite was Concerto for Sub-Machine Gun! If Disney's objective was to create the 'Illusion Of Life', then the Zagreb school wasn't under any illusions. Zagreb characters behave like drawings, and as a result create their own kind of life.
Some screengrabs below - (click on images to enlarge) -
THE HAPPY ROBOT (1956)
COWBOY JIMMY (1957)
CONCERTO FOR SUB-MACHINE GUN (1958)
Just found this- The Best of Zagreb Film on VHS/DVD
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