This Is the Oldest Known LEGO Movie

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 7 2014 12:37 PM

The Oldest Known LEGO Movie

lego_movie
Lars and Henrik Hassing were 12 and 10, respectively, when they made their "brickfilm."

Lars C. Hassing/YouTube

The LEGO Movie, reportedly “poised for one of the best February openings ever,” can be seen as, among other things, Hollywood’s belated move into the “brickfilm” business. You have probably seen a few brickfilms, even if the term is new to you: They are movies made with LEGO bricks, typically animated with stop-motion techniques. Some brickfilms recreate scenes from and trailers for other movies; many tell their own tales. Over the years, a very active brickfilm community has developed online.

And while brickfilms are perfectly suited to the YouTube era, they predate the Web video age by several decades. Indeed, it is widely believed that the short movie below, titled En rejse til månen (Journey to the Moon), is the earliest known brickfilm. It was made by Lars and Henrik Hassing in 1973, when the two cousins were 12 and 10, respectively. They made it, Lars says on YouTube, where he uploaded the movie last year, as a gift for their grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary. He and his cousin were inspired by NASA’s Apollo program. Hassing makes no mention of Georges Méliès, whose Le Voyage dans la lune seems like another possible inspiration. Maybe the minds of innovative filmmakers just naturally drift moonward.

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The cousins were eventually able to show their film to Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, president of LEGO (and son of the company’s founder). “He liked it and had a copy made. We, in turn, got a LEGO factory tour and got some big sets to take home.”

En rejse til månen was “filmed in Super 8 without sound,” Hassing explains. “Most of the film is stop motion animation, but there are also scenes with movement using a fishing line.” Lars’ little sister Inger, 10, helped “with the landscapes of papier-mâché.”

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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