Norman McLaren Centenary Film Tour


Mon 5 May 2014, 6:30pm


Submitted by Brian Matthews on

I thought you might be interested in a 'reply' i got to my blog posted on Google from Dave Trautman Yesterday 16:07.

Norman McLaren was truly one of the most innovative and stylistically important animation pioneers the world will ever see. He had a HUGE influence on me in my teen years. I was too late to get to meet him.

His work was extremely well received in Europe (where I believe they understand the notion of "art" a whole lot better than in North America) and he was celebrated in all corners of the globe.

There are many people I have met in the animation business who have no idea what his contribution was. I see so much stuff in commercials and in films which are derivative of his work (and sometimes plainly imitating it) that I can only smile and hope the person who created it understands (some day) whose shoulders they are standing on.

For me "Hoppity Pop", "Pas de Deux", and "Neighbours" represent some of his most important contributions to the form. From his animation of Live Action to his completely abstract stream of conscious exploration of the film frame as space – he was given the freedom by the National Film Board of Canada to push animation into places no one else would have ever imagined. It also needs to be mentioned how many film technicians within the Film Board went to the edge with him by helping construct the machines he needed to do the job.

When I watch something like "Gravity" I can't help thinking of people like Norman McLaren who push/pushed the envelope of what is possible to visualize. Wes Anderson might even have to admit his miniatures bear some resemblance to the kinds of things McLaren was doing in the 50's.

McLaren's "Opening Speech" (1960) may not be a part of the touring collection, but if you ever get a chance to see it you would get to see some of the humour and character of the man himself; portrayed by him in his only appearance in his own work. There are also a few documentaries about him, his work, and his techniques at the NFB library but he was not a very public person. You kinda have to be if you're going to do animation on film.


Readers should also look up Claude Jutra.

His importance to Quebec Cinema can never be measured.