The Idea (1932 film)  

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The Idea (L'Idée) is a 1932 French animated film by Austro-Hungarian filmmaker Berthold Bartosch (1893–1968), based on the 1920 wordless novel of the same name by Flemish artist Frans Masereel (1889–1972). The protagonist is a naked woman who represents a thinker's idea; as she goes out into the world, the frightened authorities unsuccessfully try to cover up her nudity. A man who stands up for her is executed, and violent suppression by big business greets a workers' revolution she inspires.

Bartosch spent two years animating the film, initially in collaboration with Masereel. Bartosch used complicated techniques with multiple layers of superimposed animation to create the intricately detailed film. The film features an electronic music score by Swiss composer Arthur Honegger (1892–1955), possibly the earliest in film history.


A thinker sits by a window, and an idea comes to him in the form of a doll-sized naked woman. The thinker puts the woman in an envelope and sends her out into the world. She finds herself in an office building, where the frightened authorities attempt to clothe her, but she soon sheds the clothing. She becomes involved with a young working class man, and he appeals to the people on her behalf; he is captured and executed, and his coffin is carried through the streets by the people. Another man presses her into a book, and delivers handbills of her to the frightened people. She is captured by a businessman, and armed soldiers are sent to put down a revolution of the people; the people are suppressed, and the woman, now white-haired, becomes a star and drifts into the cosmos.


Bartosch adapted Masereel's wordless novel The Idea (1920).

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