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Seven Minutes: The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon Paperback – May 17, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-1859841501 ISBN-10: 1859841503 Edition: New edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; New edition edition (May 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859841503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859841501
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

An aggressively didactic history of the animated cartoon from the days before Mickey Mouse to the rise (or fall, depending on your feelings about the Flintstones) of Hanna-Barbera's 137 TV programs. Unlike Eric Smoodin's Animating Culture (p. 516), Klein's history insists on maintaining a sharp focus: It's interested almost exclusively in how and why the shape of the seven-minute cartoon short changed from Felix the Cat to Disney and Warners to the UPA cartoons (Gerald McBoing-Boing, Mr. Magoo) of the 50's. What modes of space and entertainment have different cartoons drawn their inspiration from? The earliest cartoons, argues Klein (California Institute of the Arts), were staged in the depthless space of vaudeville gags, their jokes typically depending on spatial transformations between foreground characters and background objects (Felix using his tail as a crank to start a prop car). What Disney brought to the cartoon short was a fascination with the same deep space that marked live-action movies, with a corresponding emphasis on realistic melodrama, full animation, and the artful illusions of the multiplane camera. Even as Disney was turning increasingly to features and merchandising tie-ins (which alone kept the studio solvent in the 30's and 40's), Tex Avery and Chuck Jones at Warners were leading a more formulaic return to the anarchic chases of the earliest animation. Meanwhile, UPA pioneered the stripped-down style of ``consumer cubism,'' inspired not by painting but by advertisements, architecture, and consumer spaces like shopping malls and amusement parks. Klein's often schoolmarmish tone gets in the way of his ambitious secondary goal--to provide a history of the American audience's perception. As a brief history of the evolution of Hollywood cartoons, though, this could hardly be improved. (B&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Norman Klein in his remarkable Seven Minutes: The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon has accomplished what is by no means a minor miracle ... the work is erudite, witty, comprehensive and just plain fun.”—Chuck Jones, Animation Director

“A volume which should be on every toon fan’s bookshelf ... genuine food for thought with a mass of fascinating detail.”—Sight and Sound

“This book is an important contribution to the history of American popular culture and a gold mine of suggestive insights into the inner workings of the cartoon business.”—American Historical Review

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on April 27, 2004
This is a very interesting look at the short animated cartoon. It goes from the silent era to the end of the studio system.
I liked the book because it did not have an anti-Disney axe to grind. Indeed, I came away with a better understanding of why Mickey Mouse cartoons became "blander" as time passed, as opposed to the wildness of Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry.
Also very good was the look at the differences between the cartoons of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. Freleng is usually ignored by studies of this kind (as he mostly is in Michael Barrier's Hollywood Cartoons) so it was a treat to see him receive attention here.
No, this isn't a quick read, but if you take cartoons as seriously as regular Hollywood movies, with auteurs and themes, this is an essential book to read.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William Sommerwerck on June 29, 2009
Though this book contains a lot of interesting and useful information (which is why it gets two stars instead of just one), it is basically a Master's thesis written mostly in incomprehensible academic jargon. Naturally, Chuck Jones gave it an enthusiastic recommendation.

It's yet another example of how publishers don't care to edit books.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful By tamajinn on October 24, 2002
I checked this book out of the library hoping to gain insight into the various creators of American cartoons. While this book is well-researched and contains a comprehensive history of cartoons from the twenties through the fifties, it is far from a lighthearted read. The scholarly tone is dry and dull, and what should be an intriguing topic becomes a chore to get through. I'm not sure what audience this book was intended for, but it must be a small one.
I'd avoid this book unless college textbooks keep you on the edge of your seat!
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3 of 13 people found the following review helpful By mr magoo on September 6, 2001
This book gave me excelent insite on the private lives of Mickey Mouse and Scooby Doo's torid affair with Mighty Mouse. Just kidding. I loved it. Brilliantly written and truly unique. It is a must read for anyone interested in the history of American media.
Hi mom!
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