Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Hell's Bells

Hell's Bells
Directed by Ub Iwerks
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - More Silly Symphonies

There is no denying the contribution of Walt Disney to the art of animation. But really there was another person right alongside Walt who was just as influential, Ub Iwerks. With Halloween coming up this weekend, it seemed appropriate to look at one of their great collaborations, "Hell's Bells."

Like so many of the Silly Symphonies, there isn't really a plot, just a bunch of devils having a party. This is more of an animation exercise. This is Disney and Iwerks exploring the possibilities of their art. The characters in this short are very flexible, with skinny, rubber-band like arms and legs which Iwerks takes full advantage of.

One sequence that is especially fun involves a little devil dancing as nearby flames cast his large shadow on the wall behind him. It's easy to not take notice of the the skill involved in this sequence. You almost need to remind yourself that cartoons don't cast their own shadows, that all needed to be drawn.

Shorts from this time period are such a treat to watch. As you watch you can see the animators discovering new techniques along the way. We see the art of animation progress right before our eyes.

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