Emmett Redding

Karel Zeman & Mystimation

I have written some academic research about the Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman. I initially wrote my Masters exegesis on him, his body of work, the animation techniques he pioneered and his influence on film directors globally today. I adapted that exegesis into a journal article that was published by The Society for Animation Studies, and a blog article published on Animation Studies 2.0. I have also produced a video essay based on this research.

The Surprising Invention of Mystimation and its Marvellous Travels

A video essay adaptation of my Masters of Animation exegesis ‘From Zeman to Gilliam: The Evolution of Mystimation’.

From Zeman to Gilliam: The Evolution of Mystimation.

The Society for Animation Studies has published my journal article From Zeman to Gilliam: The Evolution of Mystimation.


This paper explores the work of Czech film director and animator Karel Zeman and the animation techniques he pioneered. Despite his body of work being produced entirely during the Cold War and in the Eastern Bloc, Zeman’s films had occasional success breaking into the United States. Zeman’s combination of stop motion, hand-drawn and cut out animation with various optical special effects, dubbed ‘Mystimation’, has had little academic discussion. Yet, Mystimation is a stated influence by film directors internationally who have adapted and evolved these techniques. Several case studies within this paper will provide an exploratory introduction to Zeman’s work and trace his style of animation through the history of film, highlighting its adoption by others and its evolution to now. This paper traces the influence Zeman’s body of work has had on filmmakers and contends that not only is Mystimation a recognisable and continual style of filmmaking, but also that filmmaker Terry Gilliam is Zeman’s most recognisable successor. I argue that Gilliam is a prolific proponent of Zeman’s Mystimation method; a visionary aesthetic that is fantastical and dreamlike using mix-and-match effects.

Read ‘The Fabulous Adventures of Mystimation’ on Animation Studies 2.0

Animation Studies 2.0 has published my blog article ‘The Fabulous Adventures of Mystimation’ for the February 2021 theme ‘Past and Present of Independent Animation’. Please read it here.