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Reviewed by:
  • David Ehrlich: Citizen of the World
  • Martha Patricia Niño Mojica
David Ehrlich: Citizen of the World by Oliver Cotte. Sarah Mallinson, trans. Dreamland Editeur, Paris, 2002. 144 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 2-910-02780-5.

This is a vital, illustrated, bilingual text written in French and English, in which experimental filmmaker Olivier Cotte documents and acknowledges David Ehrlich's 25-year period of continuous artistic production. Ehrlich is well known as an animator, professor, film director, sculptor, musician, activist and International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) promoter. This association has recognized his dedication, giving him a special award at the Zagreb World Animation Festival Croatia 2002 for his exceptional contribution to the art of animation. Ehrlich has an extended filmography, composed of more than 35 films. Among his most recognized works are Precious Metal (1980), Dissipative Dialogues (1982), Dryads (1988), A Child's Dream (1990) and other works that have been screened and have received awards in a variety of film festivals.

The book starts with Ehrlich's biography, which consists of a chronological look at his broad interests: medical studies, international relations and languages, Indian aesthetics, sculpture, playwriting, painting, music, art therapy, philosophy and holographic film, and later on explains his interdisciplinary artistic practice and way of living. A chapter titled "An Aesthetic Study of the Films" analyzes key formal and conceptual aspects of his work, such as geometry, lines, points, fields, wipes, color, surface, editing, cycles, symmetry, perspective, music, holography, metamorphosis and the fascination with rhythmical transformations both methodic and intuitive that lean toward the sensuality of the forms. He was also a pioneer in experimental holography with his 1978 Oedipus at Colonus, a sculptural hologram shown at the International Animation Festivals in Annecy, France, and Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

The central part of the book consists of an aesthetic study of his films and an interview that depicts Ehrlich's family background, education, creative process, way of thinking, intentionality, his relationship to narration and abstraction, his starting point as an animator, and his religion, philosophy, ideas and artistic influences.

Ehrlich appreciates the importance of international collaboration. The work Animated Self-Portraits involved artists from Japan, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Estonia and the United States. The awardwinning Academic Leaders Variations was another international collaboration among 21 artists from Poland, China, Switzerland and the United States. He has done numerous workshops with children in the United States, Asia and Europe. In 1987 Ehrlich produced The ASIFA Children's Film, made by children in nine countries. Ehrlich speaks about the difficulties of his own creative process with an incredible openness, commenting on the contradictions that naturally arise from the collaboration of artists with divergent sociopolitical backgrounds, among people from Estonia, the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia, and on his unsuccessful attempts to integrate Muslim and Jewish animators in one project that could not get enough funding to be accomplished because of its political implications.

The text ends with a contributions section that compiles descriptions of Ehrlich's personal character made by numerous directors, professors, friends and colleagues from all over the world. The reader gets little pieces of extra information as well as the contributors' extremely personal statements of gratitude that depict Ehrlich as an altruistic person whose socially engaged work has helped the development of the animators' community enormously.

There are some small typographical errors, and the layout of the bilingual pages is sometimes difficult to read. I recommend the book for people who have an interest in experimental animation, in particular, or the visual arts, in general. However, it will be more easily understood by people who already know Ehrlich's work, because the static and 2D characteristics of the silent printed text cannot adequately represent his animated and colorful movies. [End Page 434]

Martha Patricia Niño Mojica
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá, Colombia. E-mail: <>.


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