Aidan Pacifico


Advisor: Dr. Ronald Frank

Document Type



As a unique culture develops, especially in an unexplainable and dangerous world, they must craft tales in darkness to make the night far less scary and explain the unexplainable. These myths, often woven deep with powerful figures performing the impossible, created and were magic. By explaining the world through these stories, passed from generation to generation, cultures develop an eye for the magical and the impossible, seeking to steal fire from gods, trick death, and make the words and pictures within our minds when we hear and imagine these stories come to life. Eventually, we would accomplish the last of those seemingly impossible feats with the birth of animation an unknown amount of millions of years after we first began telling those stories verbally. The medium, drawn and projected by modern storytellers, would allow for the impossible to be seen and for the magic in our minds when we heard these stories to be visualized. This comes at a cost though, as animation proves to be a time-intensive medium with every single frame of the twelve frames per second needed for the brain to see quickly flashing still images as moving pictures had to be drawn by hand. With this came a necessary sense of deliberacy not seen in other contemporary media. Just as animation requires the artist and creator to put so much of their time and effort to magically trick the eye into seeing animation into the work, so too does it require them to sometimes unconsciously put in their inherent biases and perceptions, as well as those held by their culture and society. This makes animation one of the best mediums by which one may analyze a culture or society as the deliberacy inherent in every single frame of every second of an animated film tells the purposeful observer more about the creator’s society and its perceptions of a given topic. One such topic is, of course, magic. In the lifetime of animation, societal views and perceptions of magic have shifted dramatically in a relatively short time frame. As animation was the only Pacifico 3 visual moving medium which allowed for anything the mind could dream of to be visualized, the two have a deep and shared history with the deliberacy of animation no doubt carrying with it those aforementioned societal perceptions. What one may see by looking into these two fields within history, the history of animation and the history of societal perceptions of magic, is this: there is a direct correlation between the two in global history and, in the societies where animation is most prevalently made and consumed, the societal perceptions of magic and their animation follow similar paths throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.