Animation leaves a substantial footprint in the ecological sand, with greenhouse gases and waste products produced from labyrinthine supply chains, at every stage of production. Using Pixar’s Wall-E (2008) as a case study, what follows is an examination of methodologies and considerations in assessing environmental impacts in the preproduction, production, postproduction and dissemination of animated films.
Though few Canadian animations from the silent era survive, there are four existing films (safely preserved at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa) made years before the formation of the National Film Board of Canada in 1939, that have much to say about the production and distribution of early animation north of the border.
Situating silent-era Canadian animation within the silent-era Canadian film industry as a whole reveals two essential postwar developments: one, patriotism prompted a flurry of film production in Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto; and two, the federal and provincial governments established motion picture bureaus to advocate for the industry. Despite these advances, the nascent Canadian film industry, and by extension, the nascent Canadian animation industry, was marginalized within the North American marketplace.
The popularity of animated films in the silent era was peaking in the early 1920s. During this time, admittedly, cartoons served a limited function: “Most of the films were short, five to ten minutes, and were produced to ‘warm-up’ audiences” (Zipes, “Enchanted” 26). Shown before the main feature, the cartoon film of the silent era was never central to the moviegoing experience. Several veteran animators later recalled that these films were “more or less considered fillers; whether they were shown or not was of no major consequence to the audience” (Bendazzi 53). Animator Dick Huemer reminisces, “I don’t think the audiences noticed them. In general, I think, they were still faintly hostile to the cartoons” (Peary 33).
In To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf evocatively described the eponymous structure, based on craggy Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall, as a “silvery, misty-looking tower with a yellow eye that opened suddenly and softly in the evening” (Woolf 202). Lighthouses have long inspired writers and filmmakers, and these iconic structures have entered the collective consciousness as potent symbols of isolation, protection and guidance. During the Second World War, lighthouse iconography predominated in four British films - The Seventh Survivor (1941), Tower of Terror (1941), Back-Room Boy (1942) and Thunder Rock (1942) - as an expression of the societal anxieties and aspirations of an embattled Great Britain.