André Martin’s writings

The reading of writtings of André Martin was for me an event of utmost importance. I spent long hours underlining everything that seemed important to me. I then transcribed all those passages to make it easier to find later in my work. I have the intention to write a text on the role of Martin in the incredible explosion of animation (which included the invention of the term “animation cinema») in the fifties and the sixties. By his writings and his actions, he is at the source of everything that happened thereafter (creation of animation festivals, ASIFA etc.).. But it is far from certain that his thinking has been well understood, nor at the time nor now. I think the main thrust of this text will be analyzing the yawning gap between the text-Manifesto of 1952 «Cartoons and gravity”; and the totally disillusioned interview of 1968 that Martin and Boschet had granted at “Image and sound” in 1967. In between these two milestones, there is a lot to help understand what happened in animation cinema from that date until today.

I was particularly struck by this reading, because I have known Andrew Martin when he was in Montreal in 1966-67 directing his two films about television at the NFB (La télévision est là and that Image que me veux-tu?), and for doing research on the origins of the american animated cartoons in preparation of the International retrospective of Animated Film organized by the Cinémathèque québécoise (then Canadian) in 1968. I sat on the organizing committee of this event and month after month, I attended the “lectures” by Martin on the history of the cartoons. I have therefore known him at the time of the disillusionment expressed in the interview of 1968 and I witness it even before my first presence at the Festival of Annecy in 1967. But the fact remains that this is because of this great movement of animation that Martin theorized and helped organize 15 years earlier that I was attracted to animation. By then, I was not fully aware of the importance of his role . Also the fact of having met with Norman McLaren and have been supported by him in 1962, McLaren that Martin saw as the unparalleled prophet of the cinema to come. It is also under the influence of Martin that I was interested in computers for the first time in 1968 (for my film Around Perception). This I remembered just when reading his writings. So Martin is at the heart of a historic moment in the history of cinema and the beginnings of my career were totally influenced by the the various phases of his thought. So there is something objectively and personally decisive in undertaking to write about him.

I have to see the two films made for the NFB by Martin “commentator of Marshall McLuhan”, but I do not currently have access to his later texts on new technologies. But already, Hervé sent me a complete bibliography.

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