Ryan Larkin was a celebrated animator with the NFB in the 1960s and into the 1970s, most notable for his Academy Award-nominated short film Walking (1969). Drug addiction, alcohol abuse, poverty, and homeless plagued Larkin in later years and left him panhandling on Montreal streets. His precipitous decline became the subject of an animated interview by Chris Landreth that represented the emotional pain and troubled psychologies of its subjects as unreal distortions and fantastic traumas on their physical bodies. Landreth’s film, Ryan (2004), won the Oscar for Animated Short and has been deservedly hailed as a modern masterpiece of the NFB and a powerful work of animation. Perhaps most positively, the attention given to Larkin by Ryan encouraged the downtrodden animator to quit drinking and return to filmmaking, taking on a handful of animation projects before passing away in 2007.
As per the NFB:
Animator Ryan Larkin uses an artist’s sensibility to illustrate the way people walk. He employs a variety of techniques–line drawing, colour wash, etc.–to catch and reproduce the motion of people afoot. The springing gait of youth, the mincing step of the high-heeled female, the doddering amble of the elderly–all are registered with humour and individuality, to the accompaniment of special sound. Without words.
As per the NFB:
This Oscar®-winning animated short from Chris Landreth is based on the life of Ryan Larkin, a Canadian animator who produced some some of the most influential animated films of his time. Ryan is living every artist’s worst nightmare – succumbing to addiction, panhandling on the streets to make ends meet. Through computer-generated characters, Landreth interviews his friend to shed light on his downward spiral. Some strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.