Frame Grabs &Independent Animation 30 Sep 2008 08:06 am

Zagreb’s Ersatz

- When a 35mm print of The Four Poster entered Yugoslavia, it got lost for two weeks. A group of young animators hijacked the print to study the John Hubley directed animation sequences, done at UPA. Suddenly, these young animators found their calling and watched the film to drain every drop of it. The end result was a new animation studio, Zagreb, which put style and content above animation and gave a new life to modern graphics in animation.

Ersatz was a film done in 1961 which took America by storm and won the Oscar that year. Dusan Vukotic’s short was the first non-US flm to win this prize. When the film came out, I wasn’t its greatest enthusiast. I’d seen so many more daring shorts, graphically speaking, and found the film slow moving and a bit annoying. Of course, looking back on it, now, when graphics are so pathetic in animation and the animation is even worse, Ersatz looks pretty good.

I’ve pulled some frame grabs to give an idea of the film. These are they.

(Click any image to enlarge.)































10 Responses to “Zagreb’s Ersatz”

  1. on 30 Sep 2008 at 8:58 am 1.Nancy Beiman said …

    Believe it or not, Mike, it was this film and some of the Hubley shorts that made me want to be an animator. When I first saw ERSATZ in high school, it came as a design and timing revelation (so different from the American design and storytelling! and the hint of sex was a real thrill to this teenage girl!)
    Interestingly enough my Dad told me he had the same reaction to GERALD MCBOING BOING when he saw it in 1950.

  2. on 30 Sep 2008 at 9:02 am 2.Nancy Beiman said …

    P.S. Dad reacted to the graphic style and storytelling without dialogue in GERALD, of course. As far as I know there’s no ‘sex’ in this film!

  3. on 30 Sep 2008 at 10:04 am 3.Michael said …

    If inspiring you to enter the field were its only positive, Nancy, the film could be considered a success. Oddly, as I said in the piece, the film didn’t inspire me. Perhaps it felt too course to me, whereas I only saw poetry in the Hubley and some UPA films. (They had certainly hooked me by then.)

    I’m also impressed that your father took such notice of UPA in his earlier days.

  4. on 30 Sep 2008 at 11:52 am 4.StephenMacquignon said …

    What are the chances a film designed like this would make it today?

  5. on 30 Sep 2008 at 2:24 pm 5.Paul Spector said …

    Very nice. Looks, to me, like it also has a touch of Miro and his playfulness.

  6. on 30 Sep 2008 at 4:32 pm 6.Tom Minton said …

    Michael, did you ever put up frame grabs from “The Four Poster”?

  7. on 01 Oct 2008 at 4:31 am 7.slowtiger said …

    If only today’s flash films had that much sense of styling …

    One funny fact about “Ersatz”: it was re-made as a Pink Panther episode “Come on in – the water’s pink” in 1968. Of course blow-up muscles existed before and after …

  8. on 01 Oct 2008 at 8:04 am 8.Michael said …

    Tom, unfortunately the only dvd version of THE FOUR POSTER in my collection is not a good one. I have good a 16mm print of the film, but it’s unlikely I’ll pay to transfer it. I have put up a still or two from the film, but I’m not pleased with the quality and feel it’d be an injustice to the film to lift from it.

  9. on 01 Oct 2008 at 8:26 am 9.slowtiger said …

    No frame grabs, but at least some concept sketches from “The Four Poster” are shown over there at .

  10. on 01 Oct 2008 at 1:59 pm 10.Matt Jones said …

    Great stills -thnx for putting that together Michael.
    On a side note-I recently had the pleasure of meeting Ronald Searle-full report on my blog.

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