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Ode to Joy

The animated short film that a nation wide panic in 1928.

I discovered a rare 16mm print of the classic 1928 animated film by Nathan Fairchild in the attic of my home in New Jersey in 2012. It turns out the reclusive mad genius of stage and screen built the house in 1924, and lived there until his death.

Nathan Fairchild was a complicated man. Steve Freud, Sigmond’s third cousin twice removed, remarked “the depths of his unconscious mind is frightening.” Actress and Jungian psychoanalyst, Twinkie McKracken, said he “fully embodied the archetype of the mad genius.” Salvidore Oli, the Surrealist Skateboarding pioneer, said on his deathbed, “that fucking Fairchild owes me $50,000.”

Until 2012, there were only a few degraded versions of “Ode to Joy” floating around on VHS tapes and later on YouTube. What you see here is a fully remastered HD version of that newly discovered print.

The animated short “Ode to Joy” debuted in 1928 at a unnamed theater in Deershank, Wisconsin, following a newsreel about “those kookie flapper dames.” The crowd was so worked up by the novel use of cartoon violence in Fairchild’s “Ode to Joy” that they went completely ape shit. Twenty-three people were trampled to death in the ensuing chaos, deranged mothers reportedly blinded their children to keep them from seeing it, grown men pissed themselves, and the projectionist was lynched in the town square.

Myths and legends followed the short for years. All of the prints were thought to be burned in a mysterious fire that destroyed Project K studios in 1948. The owner, Chet Fink, collected the insurance money on the fire, then filed for bankruptcy in 1949. He later died in obscurity (or perhaps moved to Minnesota).

Nathan Fairchild [pictured here] , after one of his many “creative disagreements” with fellow Project K filmmaker Chet Fink.

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