BFI presents animated portrait of a nation

The extensive collection of British animation can be viewed for free online and in cinemas.

Britain has a dynamic and fascinating history of animated success. Since the early 1900s, talented and dedicated artists have meticulously drawn, sculpted, snipped, stamped and posed their art into glorious celluloid life.

To celebrate some of the standout creations that make up Britain’s animated history the BFI embarked on a year-long project, coinciding with the release of Nick Park’s latest feature for Aardman and Studiocanal, Early Man.

Animation fans now have unprecedented free access to Animated Britain, an archive that can be viewed online via the BFI Player and in cinemas. Taking viewers on an animated journey, the collection spans the earliest experiments right through to the latest pioneering features made by UK animation studios for the likes of Aardman, Wes Anderson and Tim Burton.

The collection spans the earliest experiments through to the latest pioneering features made by UK animation studios for Aardman, Wes Anderson and Tim Burton.

The films range from early experiments to the latest pioneering features made by UK studios for the likes of Aardman, Wes Anderson and Tim Burton.
Animated Britain is a treasure trove of creativity, comprising more than 300 films drawn from the BFI National Archive and Regional and National Film Archive Partners across the UK.

The landmark collection highlights some of the UK’s most outstanding productions, taking in early pioneers such as Latest News and their animated titles dating back to 1904 as well as some of the best known works by creatives including Halas & Batchelor, Bob Godfrey, George Dunning, Cosgrove Hall and Larkins Studio.

You’ll find popular characters such as Bonzo the Dog, The Clangers and Charley the Cat and Tufty through to key contributions from female artists such as Alison De Vere, Nancy Hanna and Vera Linnecar and Sheila Graber. The collection also highlights developments made by television broadcasters and animation schools and films produced by amateur talent.

This trailer gives a sneak peak of some of the animated creations in the collection…

To view the complete Animated Britain collection, head over to the dedicated page on the BFI Player. Animated Britain is presented as part of Unlocking Film Heritage with thanks to National Lottery funding and the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Archive Remasters

Running alongside Animated Britain, a complementary three-part Archive Remasters cinematic programme offers rarely seen early examples of British Animation. The genre-hopping, whistle-stop tour of the 20th century comprises 35 newly remastered classic animations drawn from the BFI National Archive’s unique animation collection. These include Animated Doll and Toy Town Circus (c1912), a stop-motion experiment believed to have been filmed using the two-colour Kinemacolor film process and a strong contender for title of the world’s earliest surviving colour animation.

Currently previewing at BFI Southbank, presented by BFI Animation Curator Jez Stewart, (screening on 20 February, 1 March and 4 March) the Archive Remasters packages will be available for UK wide cinema bookings from April.

Creative types might also be interested in attending British Animation – a free exhibition from the BFI National Archive Special Collection which goes on display at BFI Southbank’s Mezzanine Gallery from 26 January to 8 April. The showcase will include some of British animation’s most enduring classics, including materials from Britain’s first animated feature Animal Farm, the pioneering work of Lotte Reiniger, Yellow Submarine director George Dunning and Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan. The recently relaunched Mediatheque at BFI Southbank has also expanded its popular animation collection.


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