APOSTOL, EL (Quirino Cristiani, 1917, Argentina, 70m)
Directed by Quirino Cristiani
Produced by Federico Valle
Written by Quirino Cristiani
November 9, 1917
70 minutes (14 frame/s)
Language Silent film
El Apóstol (Spanish: "The Apostle") was a 1917 Argentine animated film utilizing cutout animation, and the world's first animated feature film. Cristiani was responsible for the first animated silent feature, the 1917 “El Apostol.” However, the film’s heavily localized contents limited its distribution outside of Argentina. All of Cristiani’s films are lost. The only known prints of “Peludópolis” were destroyed in a fire in 1961
A satrical political examination of the radical President Hipólito Irigoyen. Argentinian President Yrigoyen burns Buenos Aires using Jupiter's thunderbolts.
The film was written by Alfonso de Laferrere and directed by Quirino Cristiani. The film consisted of a total of 58,000 frames played over the course of 70 minutes (at 14 frames per second).
The film was a satire, with President Hipólito Yrigoyen ascending to the heavens to use Jupiter's thunderbolts to cleanse Buenos Aires of immorality and corruption. The result is a burnt city. The film was well received by critics at the time and a commercial success. A fire that destroyed producer Federico Valle's film studio incinerated the only known copy of El Apóstol, and so it is now considered a lost film.
A 2007 documentary Quirino Cristiani: The mystery of the first animated movies, directed by Italian animator Gabriele Zuchelli researches the history of the studio and recreates the look and technique used in El Apóstol.
Three milestones in film animation
1906 J Stuart Blackton is credited with being the first to harness stop-motion film-making to basic animation in what is widely said to be the first animated film: Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. Blackton drew cartoon faces on a blackboard and filmed them, stopping the camera in order to erase one face and draw another, before filming the new drawing.
1917 Quirino Cristiani's satire El Apóstol (The Apostle), thought to be the first full-length animated movie, is released in Argentina. It ran at around 70 minutes and comprised 58,000 frames, but all known copies of the film were lost in a fire in 1926.
1937 Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first surviving full-length animated movie. It was also the first in colour, and marked the studio's feature-length debut. Disney's wife, Lillian, apparently tried to talk him out of it.
Instead of using traditional cellulose animation, Cristiani would use flat puppets with rotating/removable members. Character designs were made by Diógenes Taborda, a popular cartoonist at the time.
The film was a political satire about then-Argentinian-president Hipolito Yrigoyen, wanting to cleanse Bueno Aires of immorality and corruption. Yrigoyen flies into heaven and encounters the god of thunder, Jupiter. Using his lightning bolts, Yrigoyen strikes Bueno Aires, and the city is engulfed in flames, burning into ashes, before he decides to start rebuilding the city. He then awakens, finding out that this was all a dream and is forced to face the harsh reality of complicated politics.
No complete footage of the film remain, apart from a few character designs by Taborda and a photograph of the Buenos Aires model, as seen below. Cristiani would later make another political satire animated feature about Yrigoyen: Peludopolis.
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