Le squelette joyeux (1898)
Although the effects are quite rudimentary, Le squelette joyeux (which, according to my failed ‘O’ level French, translates to something like The Happy Skeleton) is quite impressive — although it needs to be played with the appropriately jaunty music in order for the full effect to be enjoyed. The film is essentially of a skeleton performing a strange dance against a black background. He — or she — becomes so caught up in its performance that legs and arms become detached and then somehow re-attach themselves. It’s all a bit jerky, but highly impressive for its’ day. It’s interesting to speculate on just how it was received by audiences of the day, for whom film was still a relatively new medium. It’s obviously intended to amuse, but it’s easy to imagine younger members of those long-ago audiences being quite traumatised by the sight of an animated skeleton.
(Reviewed 20th August 2014)