This film is part of Free


Staying alive, from a single cell to a big bang. Blink and you’ll miss the end.

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1980 4 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


In this imaginative, educational animation with rhythm South Shields artist Sheila Graber considers Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, from a single cell to a population explosion and beyond. Each ‘real life’ evolutionary stage is represented proportionally within the 4-minute piece. As with many of her experiments in animating to music, Graber cites the influence of Disney’s Fantasia, which she first watched as a child aged seven.

Sheila Graber began to make hand-drawn animated films in the 1970s, initially to teach her secondary school students a new art form. She has won awards for her animations at both the London Film Festival and Cannes. As a gifted amateur, Graber received commissions from the Tate Gallery in London, Tyne Tees TV and the BBC. Her work attracted the attention of the French agent and distributor Nicole Jouve of Interama, who commissioned animations of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1981), her first work as a full-time professional, and later the Best Friends series (1983) and La Famille Fenouillard (1988).