The Hasher's Delirium (Émile Cohl, 1910, France)

Emile Cohl was a French cartoonist and later animator who was identified with the Incoherent Movement. The Incoherent Movement was an early anti-art movement from the salons in the 1880s that preceded the Dadaist and similar movements. Inspired by Vitagraph's films, Cohl got into animation and eventually had great success with it. The Hasher's Delirium is a very brief animation that Cohl made in 1910. It has also been called The Waiter's Dream.

The film opens in a restaurant. A man is seated on the right side of the screen, and in the center of the screen, there is a large white circle. First, the words "VINO" appear, and then the shot of a vine of grapes. This turns into a man's face, and then a lighthouse, which then morphs into a wine bottle. The man topples over. The next title card reads "ALCOOL," which turns into a ghastly apparition whose eyes pop out of his head and float around the circle.

We are then introduced to "ABSINTHE", which morphs into a worm and then a man's face whose eyes fall out of his head, and his head pops off. The man watching the proceedings then enters the center of the frame. His legs extend and begin to twist around the frame. The Hasher's Delirium is unique in film history in that it seems to be explicitly about drug use, at a time when this topic was relatively uncommon in films. Is this one of the first films to try to replicate the experience of hallucinating on something like absinthe? Perhaps. It must have been truly mindblowing at the time, and it is still a pleasure to watch - albeit a very short pleasure. We are eager to see more animations that were made by Emile Cohl - a unique artist.



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