J. Hoberman at Artforum:
IT’S NOT EVERY DAY that a posthumously published Ph.D. thesis nudges the world of cinema studies off its axis. All hail Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons (2019), by Hannah Frank, who completed the book shortly before her tragic death in 2017, at age thirty-two, from an illness believed to have been pneumococcal meningitis.
Frank is not the first theory-minded cine-historian to suggest that with the advent of CGI the history of motion pictures was effectively subsumed into the history of animation. Nor is she the first to advance the notion of the individual frame as film’s basic unit. Her originality lies in turning André Bazin on his head, challenging his dictum that “the realism of cinema follows directly from its photographic nature” by counterintuitively positing the individual animated frame as a photographic record of a particular moment. It’s a commonplace that every movie is (or was) a documentary of its own making; the same is true, Frank argues, for animation.