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Animation from 1945 - 1970

Steve Cavalier | Thursday April 09, 2009

Categories: Film, Animation, 1945 - 1970, Other Topics

Post War Animation - The TV Age

‘Animaland’: David Hand and Gaumont British Animation Studios

In 1945, David Hand, the director of Disney’s ‘Snow White’ was hired by the great British film producer J. Arthur Rank (more rhyming slang?) to come to Britain to set up a Disney type animation studio here. They chose not to locate in London or another of Britain’s bombed out cities, but in the picturesque Moor Hall in the village of Cookham-on-Thames, Berkshire.

In its short existence the Gaumont British Animation Studios was a hive of creativity and many animators learned their trade in the training school there from the Disney masters hired to come over as supervisors. They made a series of commercials and instructional films as well as two series of shorts for the cinema, ‘Animaland’ and ‘Musical Paintbox’. Before they could really get underway however, Rank decided to pull the plug in 1949 as American sales weren’t going as planned.

The comedian Bob Monkhouse, employed there as a gag writer in one of his first jobs, criticised the atmosphere as ‘too Disney’, but what David Hand intended, and what he produced with some of the cartoons, was material that was ‘basically British in content’, relying on folklore and traditional songs.

UPA (United Productions of America)

UPA, largely formed by ex-Disney animators who had left during the strike, had also survived during the war by making propaganda films. The animators here had been unhappy with Disney’s new direction of creating ever more realistic animation and imitating live action films, and wanted a more stylised and artistic approach. Disney layout man John Hubley had seen what Chuck Jones had done with a simplified style in films like ‘The Dover Boys’ and wanted to produce something like that. Together with three other Disney animators he formed UPA and their innovative work would take away Disney’s reputation as the leaders of the animation art form....

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