Captain Grogg Has His Portrait Painted (Victor Bergdahl, 1917, Sweden)

Captain Grogg Has His Portrait Painted (När Kapten Grogg skulle porträtteras) is a 1917 short mixed live-action / animation by director Victor Bergdahl. Born in 1878, Bergdahl was a former military man in his native Sweden before an accident left him disabled. Inspired by the works of Winsor McCay, Bergdahl set out on his own and began creating his animations in the 1910s. Based on his own experiences with drunkenness and sailing, he came up with a character known as Captain Grogg (Kapten Grogg). Grogg would appear in many of Bergdahl's animations.

Captain Grogg Has His Portrait Painted is one of his most well-known works. It begins in a self-reflexive fashion with Bergdahl standing in front of a canvas and working on his art. He receives a visit from Grogg, who begins to ring the bell at his door. Bergdahl and Grogg appear in the frame together and interact with one another. While this interaction now appears somewhat primitive, it must have been mindblowing to see such a fusion of live-action and animation in 1917. Bergdahl at one point offers to draw Grogg, and he agrees. Most of the animation after this point is Grogg standing and posing for the art.

Grogg seems to be unpleased with the results, and physically shakes Bergdahl, who tries to then explain. In another visual joke, a bottle begins to appear coming from Grogg's mouth in the picture Bergdahl has drawn. The two get involved in a scuffle and begin chasing one another around the room. This manic and frenzied style is still charming to this day, and there are several other camera tricks. At one point, Bergdahl punches the Grogg character, who becomes plastered to a canvas. The film ends with Bergdahl rolling up the canvas and taking Captain Grogg away - a fitting ending.



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