A Short Vision is one of the most influential pieces of animation ever created; it is also one of the most disturbing and controversial. In 1952, the very first successful hydrogen bomb was detonated, and it was over 450 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Horrified at such potential for destruction, Hungarian-British animator Peter Foldes and his wife, Joan, began working on a short cartoon in their kitchen, and in 1956 A Short Vision was aired on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan attempted to prepare his audience for the horror of the film, but his introduction stopped short of warning viewers they were about to watch an interpretation of the nuclear holocaust, complete with bloody, melting faces:
While the short received a lot of praise from audiences and critics, many were angry and disturbed by such graphic depictions of the apocalypse. To be fair, most viewers were probably expecting something more along the lines of Julie Andrews, or at leastSeñor Wences. Undeterred by the backlash, Foldes continued producing groundbreaking, socially conscious animation throughout his career, including the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award, La Faim in 1974. The short is a violent tale of inequality in which a gluttonous man is eventually devoured by the starving masses—you know, for kids!
“Just last week you read about the H-bomb being dropped. Now two great English writers, two very imaginative writers—I’m gonna tell you if you have youngsters in the living room tell them not to be alarmed at this ‘cause it’s a fantasy, the whole thing is animated—but two English writers, Joan and Peter Foldes, wrote a thing which they called A Short Vision in which they wondered what might happen to the animal population of the world if an H-bomb were dropped. It’s produced by George K. Arthur and I’d like you to see it. It is grim, but I think we can all stand it to realize that in war there is no winner.