Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Norman McLaren Animation Film Maker

Norman McLaren is one of those graphic artists who isn't so well known today. But, that wasn't always the case. Fifty years ago, McLaren had a vast collection of fans, around the world who thrilled to see his animated National Film Board Works.

Part of this was because of work from people such as him. McLaren, ironically, was a Scottish immigrant to Canada. He was a graduate of the Glasgow School of Fine Arts and he really got off on the works of the early masters of film; Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Fischinger.

Two years after graduating from the Glasgow School of Fine Arts he won two prizes in Scotland's Amateur Film Festival.

McLaren went from Scotland, to London to work in the Film Unit of the General Post Office, and from London to the Spanish Civil War and after that to New York City.
In 1941, he was invited to join Canada's National Film Board.

His earliest works were war effort films: V for Victory (1941), Five for Four (1942), Dollar Dance (1943) and Keep Your Mouth Shut (1944). (Don't you like that last film title)

The NFB gave McLaren some latitude to explore animation in film and his lengthy career included some 52 films.

The NFB's biography on McLaren says of the respect he gained:

Norman McLaren's films have garnered more than 200 international awards. Neighbours won an Oscar® in 1952, and Blinkity Blank received the Palme d'or for short films at the 1955 Cannes festival. If we consider, in addition to these awards and his body of work, the honorary doctorates awarded to him all over the world, his membership in juries at countless festivals and a variety of events, the many tributes paid to him, the retrospectives of his films, the articles, papers and theses on his work, the exhibitions of his drawings and films, we can better understand the fact that, years after his death, his reputation is as strong as it ever was.

Here now is a glimpse of Norman McLaren's animation skills. Its a short film, scarcely a little more then 2 minutes long. But it shows his power as a film maker.

Click here to see his WW2 film, Keep Your Mouth Shut.

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