Review
The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation
René Walling · From fps #7 · April 26, 2006 | In the introduction to his book, Tex Avery: King of Cartoons, Joe Adamson talks about the poor treatment animation has received from film historians. It can be argued that it has also received the short end of the stick from film theorists. At least that's what Alan Cholodenko thought when, in 1988, he organized The Illusion of Life, possibly the world's first academic conference focusing on animation. Held in conjunction with the Quick Draws animation festival, it took place in Sydney, Australia.

A few years later, a collection of papers presented at this conference was published. The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation is, according to the dust jacket, the first book of scholarly essays on animation.

The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation
Edited by Alan Cholodenko
Power Publications, 1991
312 pages

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Being a collection of scholarly essays by film theorists means most of the people whose works are collected here will be unknown to animation fans. There are no Leonard Maltins, John Canemakers or Jerry Becks to be found here. In fact, chances are the only name you will recognize in the list of contributors is that of Chuck Jones (a transcript of the talk he gave at the conference follows the introduction by the editor). This is also the only piece that makes for easy reading. Be prepared to sit down for a long, arduous read when tackling the rest of the book. References to people like Kant, Freud and Derrida abound and the prose matches in density the seriousness with which the writers tackle their subject.

Want to read the rest of this review?

You'll find it and many other articles in the March 2006 issue of fps, available for only 99 cents US.
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