Halas & Batchelor at 80

Julia Seiber, Tom Lowe and Vivien Halas during the broadcast

Streaming live on the London Animation Club FaceBook page from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm on Monday 18th 2020


john-halas-joy-batchelor-001London Animation Club Television returns on 18th May, exactly 80 years to the day since John Halas and Joy Batchelor founded the Halas & Batchelor Animation Studio. Vivien Halas, daughter of John and Joy, will introduce a short programme of their work, followed in the second half by Julia Seiber Boyd, who will present three Halas & Batchelor films which feature music by her father, the Hungarian composer Matyas Seiber.

With ads, propaganda and sponsored films in the 1940s John Halas and Joy Batchelor fostered a belief that productivity and growth would create wealth for everyone but by the 1960s, with Automania 2000, it becomes clear that John and Joy were disenchanted with how society had evolved. The studio’s final film, the Bob Godfrey-directed Know Your European’s – UK (1995), a call for European Unity, has a sad irony in these Brexit times.

Automania 2000 (1963)

Automania 2000 (1963)

John was an optimist and embraced new technology and believed that computers were the way forward. Joy tempered his enthusiasm with her wry wit and cynicism. Both wanted to make a difference and make the world a better place through animation.

80 years on much of what they had to say remains true as the themes deal with basic human traits …..especially the seminal animated feature film Animal Farm (1954). The evening is divided into two parts: the first consisting of films which reflect today’s world of pandemic, welfare state and Brexit; the second of key works with music by Hungarian composer Matyas Seiber, presented by his daughter Julia.

Part 1 (40 minutes)

Halas & Batchelor at 80

1. The Fable of Fabrics 1942 6 minutes
Ad for Lux. “It was soap that saved us.”

2. Charley – Your Very Good Health 1946 10 minutes
Introducing the welfare state and social services ….that are in the process of being dismantled

3. Automania 2000 1963 10 minutes
Production was not the solution after all. Whole families are confined inside their cars, much as we are in our homes today.

4. Dilemma 1979 4 minute clip
Mankind doomed by his own cleverness

5. Flow Diagram 1966 4 minutes
Computers will save us

6. Know Your Europeans – UK 1991 5 minutes
A belief that by coming together war would be less likely. 12 films commissioned but only two and a half completed.
A sorry tale of Brexit

Part 2. (32 minutes)

A tribute to Hungarian composer Matyas Seiber and his part in the early films of H&B, presented by his daughter Julia, who will describe her film music project. You can read a short biography of her father here.

Magic Canvas (1948)

Magic Canvas (1948)

1. Magic Canvas 1948. 10 minutes
Lyrical integration of music and movement, an antidote to WW2

2. The Owl and the Pussycat 1952 7 minutes
Music and Lear’s nonsense poetry

3. Figurehead 1953 9 minutes
Music and poetry to tell a sad story of unrequited love

4. Animal Farm 1954 4 minute clip ending with “We have no more use for that song ….the revolution is now complete.”

Animal Farm (1954)

Animal Farm (1954)