Norman McLaren was one of the most significant abstract filmmakers of the British inter-war period. Born in 1914 in Stirling, Scotland, he entered the Glasgow School of Fine Arts in 1932, where he became interested in film. After 6 years of working on films and animations, Mclaren moved to America and two years later teamed up with John Grierson at the National Film Board of Canada, where he directed a number of educational films. He stayed with the board after the war and enjoyed a significant degree of artistic freedom, making a number of innovative animated and abstract films and acquiring an international reputation as a visual artist.
In Le Merle (The Blackbird), Norman McLaren imparts unusual activity to an old French-Canadian nonsense song. Simple white cut-outs on pastel backgrounds provide lively illustrations. The folksong "Mon Merle" is sung in French by the Trio Lyrique on Montreal. Norman McLaren says, when talking about the animation, 'The viewer has to supply a lot of things which are not visible, but which are referred to by the motion.' Here he is talking about the gaps in the character, for instance it has no visible neck, but we assume a neck. I like the lively feel of the music in this animation and the visuals of the body parts seem to go hand in hand with the song. What is a very simplistic and basic character is cleverly animated to match the lyrics in the song, creating a fun animation that is really enjoyable. The blackbird in this animation loses body parts and gets them back threefold. It's fairly simple to understand the lyrics in the song when accompanied by the visuals of the animation, which is very clever because the song is actually in French. I wouldn't be able to understand the song without this animation which shows how powerful and important audio and video are in animation and films.
Pas De Deux is a short film based on a cinematic study of the choreography of ballet. A bare, black set with the back-lit figures of two dancers creates a dream-like, hypnotic effect. This short film is visually stunning and the hypnotic effect lures you into a dream-like state so that your eyes are drawn to the two dancers. With the black background, our attention is only ever drawn to the two dancers.The way the images overlap is visual pleasing and it is an art to make what seems like a fairly ordinary dance choreography into something more visually stunning and beautiful than it already is. This is something you would come to expect from a master of animation like Norman McLaren. However, the hypnotic effect did actually almost have me asleep, but i can assure you it definitely wasn't from boredom.
Begone Dull Care is an extraordinary animation in which Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren painted directly onto film. The result is a vivid interpretation, in fluid lines and colour, of jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio. This is another masterclass example of how McLaren used his skills to create experimental animations that were visually pleasing and stunning. Begone Dull Care is certainly no exception, the beautiful imagery combined with the audio of the jazz music works perfectly. The rhythmical editing to he sounds of the jazz msuic works well, and the way different parts of the animation are portrayed as different sounds and instruments creates a very effective and engaging experimental piece of artwork.