Giannalberto Bendazzi, Pioneering Animation Historian, Dies At 75

Over the following decades, Bendazzi published papers, articles, and many books, almost all of them about animation. There was a monograph on Quirino Cristiani, the Italian-born Argentine who directed El Apóstol (1917), widely considered the first animated feature. There was a booklet on Osvaldo Cavandoli, creator of Italy’s famed La Linea series (1971–86).
I never got to read what he was writing at the time — he died before I could ask. His passing has been mourned by scholars, artists, and filmmakers in the animation community:
Bendazzi’s legacy in animation scholarship stretches beyond his writing. He co-founded ASIFA-Italy in 1982 and the Society for Animation Studies in 1987. He taught at the Università degli Studi di Milano (2002–09) and at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (2013–15). He had also been adjunct professor at Griffith University in Australia.
— simonwilchesc (@simonwilchesc) December 14, 2021
Bendazzi, who died aged 75 on December 13, started writing about animation history at a time when very few scholars showed interest in the subject. By the end of his career, he was pre-eminent in a field that he had helped develop in the first place. His books, especially the three-volume Animation: A World History (2016), are definitive; his knowledge of the medium’s past was unparalleled.
So sad to hear this news. A genuine pioneer and great company. A big man with a big heart. Thank you Giannalberto….RIP
Very sad to hear of the death of the great animation scholar, writer and professor Giannalberto Bendazzi, who died yesterday aged 75. May he rest in peace.
These histories pay close attention to lesser-known animation industries — Africa, Central Asia, and the Caribbean are all covered — and to independent, auteur-led productions in general. As Bendazzi wrote in the opening to Animation: A World History, “This historian cares about freedom. Any blessed-by-money film has enough power to stand up and make itself known. A film of humble origins has much less power and hence much less freedom.”
When writing historical articles, we at Cartoon Brew often need to check facts — who directed Mexico’s first animated feature? — or refresh our background knowledge — what did the fall of the Soviet Union do to Russia’s studios? In these moments, more often than not, we turn to the books of Giannalberto Bendazzi that bookend our shelves.