Friends, when it comes to the standard Toon In offerings, I generally pick an animated short that either I have fond memories of or feel deserve wider recognition. That is why when I started the articles way back on the Retroist site – I chose more than a few UPA theatrical shorts, although the overall goal was to entertain. Having said all of that however, I do not think you will find Peter and Joan Foldes’ A Short Vision either comforting or what we typically think of as entertaining. That is because this British animated short pulls no punches in delivering it’s earnest message about the horrors of nuclear annihilation – even if it never specifically mentions the cause of destruction. In addition I was shocked to learn A Short Vision was shared with the American public courtesy of Ed Sullivan. It turns out that after seeing the animated short for himself, ten days later he debuted it on his massively popular TV series on the night of May 27th of ’56. Although I’ve read he informed Parents about the nature or the short… it sounds like it caused an amazing scare for younger viewers.
It sounds like while A Short Vision caused quite the controversy when it was aired on The Ed Sullivan Show – it was shown a second time on June 10th, with Sullivan advising parents to not let children watch this time. While the subject matter is indeed terrifying thanks to some of the visuals – I still feel that the animation in itself is beautiful – unique. It helps of course that it is narrated by James McKechnie (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) – to say nothing of that fantastic score by Matyas Seiber (Animal Farm, Quatermass II)
A Short Vision was funded courtesy of the British Film Institute’s Experimental Fund – with Peter Foldes basing the short on a poem he had penned while traveling to Australia by boat two years earlier. The animation itself was done in the Foldes’ kitchen with Joan providing not only the animation stand and lighting system but some of the animation itself. Apparently this was the third and last animated short that the duo produced – although I know that Peter Foldes would move to Paris and was one of the first animators to work with computer animation.