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Birth of the Robot

UK, 1936 (MIFF 1996, Robotica)

Director: Len Lye

Birth of the Robot is an early animated puppet film made by experimental New Zealand/Britain/USA-Based director Len Lye (1901-1980).Lye was a truely multi disciplanary artist whose work ranged from experimental films through painting, prose peotry and kinetic sculpture to slightly strange genetic theories about the orign of art and memory.

This short film is strikingly modern in it's visual compostition, and deceptive in that it is, strictly speaking, an advert for Shell Oil -Although this become apparent towards the end of the film. In terms of the cinematic language of advertising, the programme is quite at odds with current conventions. Lye's technique of hand-painting on the film strip, and using Gasaparcolour process ( as in Birth of the Robot), were highly innovative.

See also...

Colour Box

This was one of the first films to be made without the use of a camera. Len Lye was a pioneer in the use of abstract colour images as counterpoint to a musical soundtrack. Frame divisions are ignored ... More »

When the Pie was Opened

An imaginatively presented recipe for a vegetable pie. Len Lye is famous for his earlier abstract films, "Trade Tattoo" and "Colour Box" produced for the A.P.O. Film Unit. ... More »

Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies

... ... The Quay brothers puppet animation takes the viewer on a dream-like trip into their surreal world of unusual architectural forms, living skulls. psychedelic patterns and robots using tools ... More »

The Robots Are Coming

... ... A look at what part robots play in the world today (as of 1979) and what research into robot technology is likely to produce in the future. Present day robots are used in industry to perform ... More »

Robotiks: Isaac Asimov’s (Clank! Clank!) Artificial Man

... ... Isaac Asimov science-fiction writer and originator of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics discusses present (as of 1976) and future poss­ibilities of robots and robotics. The fascinating ... More »


"Set in Germany and New York in the thirties, it's about a puppeteer harassed by a Nazi spy. Cox doesn't waste the premise, but cleverly integrates live action and model animation in this strikingly ... More »

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