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Sample text

In Britain, however, animation in its formative incarnations was essentially preoccupied with these seemingly magical properties of the technique in imbuing inanimate forms with life. Crucially, this meant that animators became increasingly concerned with how motion in itself could carry narrative meaning and comic effect, and thereafter how activities intrinsically based on movement – most specifically sport – could inform the evolving vocabulary of the form. This inevitably included the representation of ‘bodies’, the physical shifts and changes in activities, the heightened goal-orientated aspects of achievement and outcome, and most significantly, 42 Animation, Sport and Culture the flux and extremes in the overall conduct of sport, which correlate with the caricaturial exaggeration in animation.

This is an important point to make at this stage in the discussion, as I wish to stress how far animated films – for all their apparent artifice – are nevertheless important sites of social and aesthetic discourse in historical contexts. It is important, then, to recover and compare such texts to reveal the cultural and artistic dimensions that underpin ‘histories’ of all kinds. Alice, Felix and Babe Ruth Arthur Melbourne Cooper’s films – not merely his sporting ones – once more open up the question of the definition of sport, as it readily elides with games, interfaces with pastimes and aligns ‘play’, ‘imagination’ and the ‘symbolic body’.

And one that is specific to the involvement of physical bodies, namely that they are subject to the inevitable increase of entropy, the horizon of all sporting exertion being fatigue leading finally to exhaustion. (Connor 2011:16) This immediately confirms the difference, for example, of sports such as football (both codes), rugby (both codes), tennis, basketball and cricket from games such as chess, backgammon or roulette, and children’s games such as blind man’s bluff, Chinese whispers, hide and seek, marbles, and Simon says, but does not take into account darts, snooker or table tennis, for instance, which are ostensibly understood as games but are played as professional sports.

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