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Explore the Beautiful History of 2D Animation

It can be mind-boggling to think about how long cartoons have been around. Yes, Mickey Mouse has been an American pop culture icon for longer than virtually everybody reading these words has been alive. Believe it or not, the history of animation goes back a lot farther than that: Pre-film, the first animations can be tracked back to 1833, with the zoetrope. It only evolved from that point on, and this rich history is what the above video from The Solomon Society beautifully demonstrates (via Sploid).

Early animation was often primitive and minimalistic, what’s surprising is how quickly its starts to achieve a level of fluidity similar to modern cartoons. By the early 1900s, films like Gertie the Dinosaur (from 1914) demonstrated movement that looked pretty natural. Disney’s Flowers and Trees is the first color film included in the video, and as you’d expect, there’s a lot more Disney after that. Even though we knew that Snow White is super old, it’s crazy to think that it came out 80 years ago, in 1937, because of how well done it was.

This video only covers 1833 to 1990, since its creator wrote in the description that “the 3d revolution deserved its own video.” While this video is presented beautifully, it’s worth noting that it’s far from a complete history. As one YouTube commenter put it, “UPA, Warner Bros, Fleischer, Terry Toons, Jay Ward, etc So many omissions. The work of Richard Williams and other Japanese studios outside of Ghibli…”

What are your favorites from the video? What about your favorites that weren’t included? Whatever you’re into, know that it’s a gorgeous part of an engaging medium’s fantastic history.

Featured image: Disney

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