Norman McLaren!

NFBIf the Criterion Collection were to devote a spine number to a single NFB filmmaker, the consensus pick would likely be experimental animator Norman McLaren. The Scottish-born filmmaker received various honours over his career, including an Oscar (and 4 more nominations), a Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement in animation, 3 BAFTA awards, a Silver Bear and Silver Plaque at Berlin, and a short film Palme d’Or at Cannes. The NFB headquarters in Montreal is named after McLaren, as is the electoral district it is located within, and the Film Board commemorated its 70th anniversary with a comprehensive DVD collection of McLaren’s work, Norman McLaren: The Master’s Edition. That set, despite being somewhat confusing in its organization, is just waiting for a blugrade by Criterion. Until such time as that happens, a Criterion Collection set devoted to the NFB would necessarily need to include at least a sampling McLaren’s work. Provided here are three of McLaren’s finest films – Begone Dull Care (1949), winner of a Silver Plaque at the Berlin International Film Festival; Neighbours (1952), Oscar-nominated in the Short Subject category and Oscar-winning as a Documentary Short; and Blinkity Blank (1955), winner of the Short Film Palme d’Or and a BAFTA award.

As per the NFB:

In this extraordinary short animation, Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren painted colours, shapes, and transformations directly onto their filmstrip. The result is a vivid interpretation, in fluid lines and colour, of jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio.

As per the NFB:

In this Oscar®-winning short film, Norman McLaren employs the principles normally used to put drawing or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower.

As per the NFB:

This experimental short film by Norman McLaren is a playful exercise in intermittent animation and spasmodic imagery. Playing with the laws relating to persistence of vision and after-image on the retina of the eye, McLaren engraves pictures on blank film, creating vivid, percussive effects.

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