In 2008, the film billed as the world’s first animated documentary ‘Waltz with Bashir‘ was released in cinemas, and reminded the world just how powerful animation is. It used animation as a step away from reality that distanced the audience, and allowed them to watch, absorb and understand horrors that they would otherwise turn away from.
Persepolis came along in the same year; a powerful narrative about a nuanced subject, told in ways that could only be achieved with animation. It tells the story of a young girl growing in to a woman within the confines of secular Iran – a narrative made ‘safe’ and relatable to a Western audience by the unique style of animation that is both personal enough to draw them in, and distant enough to keep them watching.
Animation has always been used for documentary – this recent resurgence has merely been cinema audiences understanding what short film makers and festival goers have understood for a long time: that there is no more powerful tool for fact based, historical, documentary film making than animation.
It started in 1918, with the self proclaimed ‘originator and inventor of animated cartoons’ Winsor McCay, and his film ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania‘. 3 years previously, the Lusitania had sunk after being hit by 2 German torpedos – an event which shocked and fascinated America, but of which there was no footage. McCay drew 25,000 drawings to depict the tragedy, and helped the audience understand an event that was significant in them declaring war on Germany 2 years later. The animated documentary was born.
At Slurpy, we’re continuing that tradition whenever we get the opportunity – telling stories about the life of Boudica, the differences in rations between German and Allied forces during WW1, experiences of climate change, or what is believed to have happened in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang.And what’s exciting now, is that the future of the Animated Documentary isn’t restricted to flat screens that you watch from beginning to end – projection mapping on historical buildings, heritage sites with animated walk throughs, interactive animation at museums, and virtual reality are all either here or coming soon. The future holds many exciting possibilities for animation, and we look forward to embracing them!
We work closely with educators, journalists, consultants, experts, and first hand sources wherever possible to imbue our documentary animation with historical accuracy, and ensure that we are telling real stories, from real people, told through the inventive, emotive, relatable and yet distancing power of animation.