The Moving Spirit (1953)

The Moving Spirit is a stylish cartoon summary of the development of the modern motor, carrying its promotional message for sponsor BP with subtlety and skill.

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Film details

  • Country

    United Kingdom

  • Year


  • Genre


  • Type


  • Category

    Non Fiction

Alternative titles

  • The History and Development of the Horseless Carriage Alternative


Headed by the husband-and-wife team of John Halas and Joy Batchelor, the British animation company Halas & Batchelor is today best known for the feature-length version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1954). But Halas & Batchelor were also experts in the field of animated documentary.

The Moving Spirit is a perfect example of the studio’s ability to apply cartooning wit to basic animated diagrams, bringing life to a potentially ponderous summary of over 100 years of transport history.

In perfect partnership with a skilful musical score, the film is cleverly scripted and designed to give a real drive to the chronology. Pauses are taken to illustrate advances in engineering concepts along the way, but otherwise we are left with a sense of relentless progress – progress oiled by the interventions of BP’s fuel and lubricants along the way.

The Moving Spirit makes an interesting comparison with Halas & Batchelor’s later Automania 2000 (1963), produced without sponsorship, which uses the relentless spread of the motor car as a metaphor for mankind’s ultimate destruction.

Cast & Credits

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