THE OBEDIENT FLAME (1939)
Article 5342 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Norman McLaren
What it is: Industrial film
The effectiveness of ovens for the kitchen that use gas is demonstrated.
You know, I don’t really mind covering as much animation for this series as I have been recently, since I’m a big fan of animated films. However, it’s become obvious that the selection of genre animated films in the Walt Lee guide (which lists this one) is very scattershot; it’s obvious many of these movies were added to the list with very little knowledge of what they were like. This one is an industrial film about how it is possible to adjust the levels of a gas stove and has demonstrations and explanations as to how the heat can be kept at a steady level. It’s not a useless of pointless film; I actually rather liked it, and I must admit that I learned about how these appliances work. It is, however, devoid of fantastic content; there’s not even an anthropomorphic flame to lead us on our journey to discovery. I do think a discussion of the nature of fantastic content in animation would be interesting; if I ever decide to write a book, that might be something I’d explore. But one thing I do know for sure; animation does not automatically mean fantastic content.