Saturday, 27 February 2010

Halas & Batchelor's The Figurehead

Here are a few stills from The Figurehead, a 1952 Halas & Batchelor short directed by Allan Crick. One of the studio's forays into stop motion, the short also made use of experimental cel techniques, as explained in John Halas and Roger Manvell's book The Technique of Film Animation:
The idea of drawing and painting with light had been tried out by my colleague Alan Crick in our film Figurehead. This was a technique based on the use of transparent celluloids, polaroid screens, and filters. By the adjustment of polaroid filters the colours of transparent celluloids could be automatically changed. These light effects suited the subject well; it was a fantasy about Neptune's daughter who falls in love with a handsome but unresponsive wooden figurehead and takes him down with her to the sea bed.
The film can be found both on the DVD included with the book Halas & Batchelor Cartoons: An Animated History and in the French DVD compilation Halas & Batchelor: Le best of "so British"!.


  1. My father-in-law is Alan Crick's middle son. The family have a number of his awards for films he directed for Hallas & Batchelor. The family legend was that Alan as an artist and Royal Naval Officer joined H&B in the war to provide the naval input into Ministry of Information films for merchant sea men. He stayed on as H&B was briefly Hallas, Batchellor and Crick, but fell out after a disagreement over accepting CIA funding and US animators for Animal Farm. The timing seems strange to me. He clearly went on to develop films like Figure Head after Animal Farm, possibly as part of a different part of H&B. What is certain is that he was very unhappy about employing US animators feeling it was depriving the UK industry of opportunities for skilled animators.
    Sadly he died of cancer shorlty after going independent at a tine when he was producing much of his best work according to tributes from his ex-colleagues.

  2. Thanks for this information - it's always a pleasure, especially when it's about people such as Allan Crick who have not had a great deal written about them.