This week, the Cannes Film Festival was home to the premiere of Inside Out, the new film by Pixar Animation Studios, and one of its best-reviewed pictures. The film is playing out of competition, as has been the recent tendency of most Hollywood products, and animation in particular. It has been a special habit of films made by DreamWorks Animation in the 21st Century, with all sorts of things from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron in 2002 up to How to Train Your Dragon 2 last year muscling their way onto the Croisette.
There has, however, been a small but meaningful history of animated movies to have been given slightly more honorable treatment, and allowed to play in the big kids’ sandbox. Since the festival’s first edition in 1946, there have been seven animated features entered into the main competition, if my count is right, and they make for a fascinating cross-section of how the international cinema scene regarded the state of that particular art across the years. Here, in order, are those seven films.
Make Mine Music (1946)
The eighth feature made by the Disney studio, and the third of that company’s dubious “package films”, attempts to make entire features by jamming a bunch of short films into one vague thematic frame. Like any anthology, it has peaks and valleys, though the latter dominate, and the film is infinitely less impressive than its quasi-sequel Melody Time. Let us not be baffled by its Cannes slot; this was the fest’s first year & they were figuring it out, everybody loves Disney, and it’s a nice post-war feel-good effort. It won Best Animation Design, a discontinued award.