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Popescu-Gopo, Ion


Animator and Director. Nationality: Romanian. Born: Bucharest, 1 May 1923. Education: Studied sculpture and graphic design at the Academy of Art, Bucharest. Career: Joined Animafilm (animation studio): first animated film, The Naughty Duck, 1950; 1953—first live-action film, The Little Liar; mid-1960s—film officer, World Health Organization, two years. Died: In 1990.

Films as Director (Animation):


The Naughty Duck; The Bee and the Dove


Two Little Rabbits; The Mischievous Hedgehog




Marinica's Bodkin


A Short History


The Seven Arts


Homo Sapiens


Allo! Hallo! Alo!


Pill (2 parts)


The Kiss


The Hour Glass




One Two Three


Study Opus I—Man




Three Apples


Quo Vadis Homo Sapiens


Ramasagul; The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Films as Director (Live-Action):


Fetita mincinoasa (The Little Liar)


O musca cu bani (A Fly with Money)


S-a furat o bomba (A Bomb Was Stolen)


Pasi spre lune (Steps to the Moon)


De-as fi Harap Alb (The White Moor)


Orasul meu (My City)


Sancta Simplicitas



Filme Filme Filme, Bucharest, 1963, as All about Film, Bucharest, 1963.

By POPESCU-GOPU: articles—

Revista del Cinematografo (Rome), August 1964.

"Introduction au dessin animé," in Bulletin de l'ASIFA, no. 13, 1966.

Cinema International (London), no. 18, 1968.

Ecran (Paris), February 1975.

Cinema (Bucharest), April 1983.

Romanian Film, no. 2, 1987.

On POPESCU-GOPO: articles—

Image et Son (Paris), March 1958.

Deutsche Filmkunst, no. 9, 1960.

Film Rutan, no. 3, 1963.

Image et Son (Paris), November 1967.

Romanian Film (Bucharest), 1968.

Cinema (Bucharest), July 1976.

Filmowy Servis Prasowy (Warsaw), 1–15 January 1983.

Film a Doba (Prague), July 1985.

* * *

Ion Popescu-Gopo made witty animated films, all of which have a dual philosophical content. His main character, Homo Sapiens, figured in most of his films, and was a reflection of himself, almost a self-portrait. On the surface, Homo Sapiens appears to be a lost creature, an innocent party, not knowing how and why he came about. But as the plot develops he adjusts his outlook and attains the upperhand. Along the way, the oddity and the drollness of existence is emphasized. It was enterprising and quite unusual, at the time, to employ only one main character in European animation as Popescu-Gopo did for 25 years, with his Homo Sapiens character. This was at a time when such trends only existed in TV series mass-produced by the Japanese and the Hollywood type of animated cartoons. For his treatment, as well as for his simple graphic style, he became an internationally known artist whose films were regularly chosen for international festivals.

Eventually, after several live-action movies to his credit, it emerged that he was not as entirely comfortable handling live actors and human situations as he was with animated cartoons. He returned to animation but the experience gained in live-action production had enriched and expanded his skills as a filmmaker even further. The Sorcerer's Apprentice, using the combined technique of live action and puppet animation, shows evidence of his early experiences as a sculptor. The location is Popescu-Gopo's own studio. The live character is Popescu-Gopo himself, watched by his alter-ego, the wooden puppet. While Popescu-Gopo is away from the studio having tea, the puppet comes to life and takes over the studio activities, but without any coordination or sense of order. By the time Popescu-Gopo returns everything is chaos and the studio is ruined. The situation is handled beautifully and the film could be considered as a small masterpiece.

When asked what was his most precious wish for the future, Popescu-Gopo's reply was: "That the Martians should see my film Homo Sapiens."

—John Halas

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