Through the Eyes of Peter Pan

Internalizing Mental Illness via Animation in the Documentary Life, animated

  • Janin Tscheschel
Keywords: mental illness, animation, documentary, fact, fiction, stigmatization


This article discusses to what extent the documentary film, through its aesthetic strategies and narrative style, spotlights the topic of mental illness, contributing to society’s acceptance of this taboo topic. The 2016 documentary Life, Animated, which integrates animations into its presentation, gives insights into the concrete possibilities of negotiating the topic of mental disorders. A discourse-analytical examination embeds the film in a larger context and focuses on the crisis of the documentary film under the sign of hybrid forms combining fact and fiction. The article shows how these hybrid formats both question the documentary film’s claim to reality and offer the opportunity to find images conveying inner states, and highlights that an extension of the possibilities of representation, such as the integration of animation in documentaries, allows conditions that are completely unknown to the viewers to be immersively experienced, thereby contributing to their de-stigmatization.