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Norman McLaren

Norman McLaren

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Norman McLaren, CC
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

, CQ
National Order of Quebec
The National Order of Quebec, termed officially in French as l'Ordre national du Québec, and in English abbreviation as the Order of Quebec, is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of Quebec...

 (11 April 1914 – 27 January 1987) was a Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

-born Canadian animator
Animator
An animator is an artist who creates multiple images that give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence; the images are called frames and key frames. Animators can work in a variety of fields including film, television, video games, and the internet. Usually, an...

 and film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada
National Film Board of Canada
The National Film Board of Canada is Canada's twelve-time Academy Award-winning public film producer and distributor. An agency of the Government of Canada, the NFB produces and distributes documentary, animation, alternative drama and digital media productions...

 (NFB). He was a pioneer in a number of areas of animation and filmmaking, including drawn on film animation
Drawn on film animation
Drawn-on-film animation, also known as direct animation or animation without camera, is an animation technique where footage is produced by creating the images directly on film stock, as opposed to any other form of animation where the images or objects are photographed frame by frame with an...

, visual music
Visual music
Visual music, sometimes called "colour music," refers to the use of musical structures in visual imagery, which can also include silent films or silent Lumia work. It also refers to methods or devices which can translate sounds or music into a related visual presentation...

, abstract film
Abstract film
Abstract film is a subgenre of experimental film. Its history often overlaps with the concerns and history of visual music. Some of the earliest abstract motion pictures known to survive are those produced by a group of German artists working in the early 1920s, a movement referred to as Absolute...

, pixilation
Pixilation
Pixilation is a stop motion technique where live actors are used as a frame-by-frame subject in an animated film, by repeatedly posing while one or more frame is taken and changing pose slightly before the next frame or frames. The actor becomes a kind of living stop motion puppet...

 and graphical sound
Graphical sound
Graphical sound or drawn sound techniques are a consequence of the sound-on-film technology and based on the creation of artificial optical polyphonic sound tracks on transparent film. The first practical sound-on-film systems were created almost simultaneously in the USSR, USA and Germany...

.

His awards included an Oscar for the Best Documentary in 1952 for Neighbours
Neighbours (film)
Neighbours is a 1952 anti-war film by Scottish-Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren. Produced at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, the film uses the technique known as pixilation, an animation technique using live actors as stop-motion objects...

, a Silver Bear for best short documentary at the 1956 Berlin International Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
The Berlin International Film Festival , also called the Berlinale, is one of the world's leading film festivals and most reputable media events. It is held in Berlin, Germany. Founded in West Berlin in 1951, the festival has been celebrated annually in February since 1978...

 Rythmetic
Rythmetic
Rythmetic is a 1956 Canadian short animated film directed by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. At the 6th Berlin International Film Festival it won the Silver Bear award....

and a 1969 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film for Pas de deux
Pas de Deux (film)
Pas de deux is a 1968 short dance film by Norman McLaren, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.The film was photographed on high contrast stock, with optical, step-and-repeat printing, for a sensuous and almost stroboscopic appearance...

.

Early life


McLaren was born in Stirling
Stirling
Stirling is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and studied set design at the Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow School of Art is one of only two independent art schools in Scotland, situated in the Garnethill area of Glasgow.-History:It was founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design. In 1853, it changed its name to The Glasgow School of Art. Initially it was located at 12 Ingram...

. His early experiments with film and animation
Animation
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. The effect is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in several ways...

 included actually scratching and painting the film stock itself, as he did not have ready access to a camera. His earliest extant film, Seven Till Five (1933), a "day in the life of an art school" was influenced by Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

 and displays a strongly formalist attitude.

McLaren's next film, Camera Makes Whoopee (1935), was a more elaborate take on the themes explored in Seven Till Five, inspired by his acquisition of a Ciné-Kodak camera, which enabled him to execute a number of 'trick' shots. McLaren used pixilation
Pixilation
Pixilation is a stop motion technique where live actors are used as a frame-by-frame subject in an animated film, by repeatedly posing while one or more frame is taken and changing pose slightly before the next frame or frames. The actor becomes a kind of living stop motion puppet...

 effects, superimpositions and animation not only to display the staging of an art school ball, but also to tap into the aesthetic sensations supposedly produced by this event.

His two early films won prizes at the Scottish Amateur Film Festival, where fellow Scot and future NFB founder John Grierson
John Grierson
John Grierson was a pioneering Scottish documentary maker, often considered the father of British and Canadian documentary film. According to popular myth, in 1926, Grierson coined the term "documentary" to describe a non-fiction film.-Early life:Grierson was born in Deanston, near Doune, Scotland...

 was a judge.

Professional career


Grierson, who was at that time head of the General Post Office film unit
GPO Film Unit
The GPO Film Unit was a subdivision of the UK General Post Office. The unit was established in 1933, taking on responsibilities of the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit...

, saw another of his movies at an amateur film festival and took interest. He hired Mclaren for the GPO as soon as he completed his studies.

After making four films for the GPO in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, including Love on the Wing, McLaren moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in 1939, just as World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 was about to begin in Europe. He worked as a freelancer until 1941.

At the invitation of Grierson, he moved to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 in 1941 to work for the National Film Board, to open an animation studio and to train Canadian animators. During his work for the NFB, McLaren created his most famous film, Neighbours (1952), which has won various awards around the world, including the Canadian Film Award and the Academy Award
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

. Besides the brilliant combination of visuals and sound, the film has a very strong social message against violence and war. In his early period in Canada, McLaren spent considerable time developing the animation department of the board. Among his pupils are numbered James McKay of Toronto and George Dunning
George Dunning
George Garnett Dunning was a Canadian film maker and animator. He is best known for animating and directing the 1968 Beatles' film Yellow Submarine.-Biography:...

 who designed the animation for the Beatles' film Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine (film)
Yellow Submarine is a 1968 animated musical fantasy film based on the music of The Beatles. It is also the title for the film's soundtrack album, released as part of The Beatles' music catalogue. The film was directed by animation producer George Dunning, and produced by United Artists and King...

.

In addition to film, McLaren worked with UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 in the 1950s and 1960s on programs to teach film and animation techniques in China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. His five part "Animated Motion" shorts, produced in the late 1970s, are an excellent example of instruction on the basics of film animation.

Personal life


His longtime companion was NFB director Guy Glover, whom he met at the ballet in London in 1937. The two were together until McLaren’s death.

Awards and achievements


McLaren is remembered for his experiments with image and sound as he developed a number of groundbreaking techniques for combining and synchronizing animation with music.

The National Film Board honoured McLaren's genius by naming its Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 head office building the Norman McLaren Building. The Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent, which is home to the NFB, has also honoured McLaren by naming a borough district after him.

Lifetime achievement awards
In 1968 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 and promoted to Companion in 1973. In 1982, he was the first anglophone to receive the Prix Albert-Tessier
Prix Albert-Tessier
The Prix Albert-Tessier is an award by the Government of Quebec that is part of the Prix du Québec, given to individuals for an outstanding career in Québec cinema. It is awarded to scriptwriting, acting, composing music, directing, producing and cinematographic techniques. It is named in honour of...

, given to persons for an outstanding career in Québec cinema.

2006 retrospective
In 2006, the Film Board marked the 65th anniversary of NFB animation with an international retrospective of McLaren's restored classics and a new DVD box set of his complete works.

2009
In 2009, McLaren's works were added to UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

's Memory of the World Programme
Memory of the World Programme
UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction...

, listing the most significant documentary heritage collections in the world, joining such works as the Gutenberg Bible
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, and marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status...

 and The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs...

.

Awards for McLaren's films


Academy Awards (USA)
  • (1953) Oscar
    Academy Awards
    An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

     - Best Documentary, Short Subjects for Neighbours (1952)


Annie Awards (USA)
  • (1975) Annie Award
    Annie Award
    The Annie Awards have been presented by the Los Angeles, California branch of the International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood since 1972...

    : Winsor McCay Award


BAFTA Awards (England)
  • (1969) BAFTA Film Award
    British Academy of Film and Television Arts
    The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a charity in the United Kingdom that hosts annual awards shows for excellence in film, television, television craft, video games and forms of animation.-Introduction:...

      Best Animated Film for Pas de Deux
    Pas de Deux (film)
    Pas de deux is a 1968 short dance film by Norman McLaren, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.The film was photographed on high contrast stock, with optical, step-and-repeat printing, for a sensuous and almost stroboscopic appearance...

    (1968)


Berlin International Film Festival
  • (1951
    1st Berlin International Film Festival
    The 1st annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from June 6 to June 17, 1951. The opening film was Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca.At this very first Berlin Festival, the Golden Bear award was introduced, and it was awarded to the best film in each of five categories: drama, comedy, crime or...

    ) Silver Medal (Culture Films and Documentaries) award for Begone Dull Care
    Begone Dull Care
    Begone Dull Care is a visual music animated film directed by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart.Using drawn on film animation, McLaren and Lambart paint and scratch directly onto film stock to create a visual representation of Oscar Peterson's jazz music...

  • (1956
    6th Berlin International Film Festival
    -Jury:* Marcel Carné* Bill Luckwell* Giuseppe Vittorio Sampieri* Koichi Kawakita* Leo J. Horster* Ilse Urbach* Ludwig Berger-Films in competition:* ...erwachsen sein dagegen sehr by Wolf Hart* Autumn Leaves by Robert Aldrich...

    ) Silver Bear (Short Film) award for Rythmetic
    Rythmetic
    Rythmetic is a 1956 Canadian short animated film directed by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. At the 6th Berlin International Film Festival it won the Silver Bear award....



Canadian Film Awards (Canada)
  • (1949) Special Award for Dots
  • (1950) Special Award for Begone Dull Care
    Begone Dull Care
    Begone Dull Care is a visual music animated film directed by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart.Using drawn on film animation, McLaren and Lambart paint and scratch directly onto film stock to create a visual representation of Oscar Peterson's jazz music...

  • (1952) Special Award for Around is Around
  • (1952) Special Award for Now is the Time
  • (1952) Special Award for After the Storm
  • (1953) Special Award for A Phantasy
  • (1953) Special Award for Neighbours
  • (1958) Arts and Experimental for A Chairy Tale
    A Chairy Tale
    A Chairy Tale is a 1957 animated short film co-directed by Norman McLaren and Claude Jutra, and starring Jutra and a most uncooperative chair....

    • Shared with Claude Jutra
      Claude Jutra
      Claude Jutra was a Canadian actor, film director and writer. The Prix Jutra are named in his honor because of his importance in Quebec cinema history. He was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec....

  • (1962) Arts and Experimental for Lines Horizontal
  • (1965) Arts and Experimental for Canon
    • Shared with Grant Munro
      Grant Munro (filmmaker)
      Grant Munro O.C. is a Canadian animator, filmmaker and actor.-Early life:He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has one sister and a brother . Brian Munro spent his adult life in the Canadian Forces, serving with Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry...

  • (1968) Special Award for Pas de Deux
    Pas de Deux (film)
    Pas de deux is a 1968 short dance film by Norman McLaren, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.The film was photographed on high contrast stock, with optical, step-and-repeat printing, for a sensuous and almost stroboscopic appearance...



Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

  • (1955) Short Film Palme d'Or
    Short Film Palme d'Or
    The Short Film Palme d'Or is the highest prize given to a short film at the Cannes Film Festival. It is chosen by the same jury of the Cinéfondation....

     for Blinkity Blank
    Blinkity Blank
    Blinkity Blank is a 1955 animated short film by Norman McLaren, engraved directly onto black film leader, Blinkity Blank features a soundtrack combining improvisational jazz from composer Maurice Blackburn along with graphical sounds created by McLaren scratching onto the film's optical...



Columbus International Film and Video Festival (USA)
  • (1984) Honorable Mention for Narcissus
    Narcissus (1983 short movie)
    Narcissus is a 1983 Canadian short musical and experimental film directed by Norman McLaren and produced by David Verrall, visualizing the legend of Narcissus in a modern way...



Dance on Camera Festival (USA)
  • (1984) Gold Star Award for Narcissus


Festival international de cinéma de court métrage (France)
  • (1985) Special Mention for Narcissus


Festival international du film romantique
  • (1985) First Prize - Madame de Stael Prize, (France, May 1985) for Narcissus


Genie Awards (Canada)
  • (1984) Special Achievement Genie
    Special Achievement Genie
    The Special Achievement Genie is a special award given irregularly by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television at the Genie Awards. It is mainly a Lifetime Achievement Award but can also mark a career milestone.-List of past recipients:...



Golden Sheaf Awards / Short Film and Video Festival (Canada)
  • (1984) Golden Sheaf Award - Best Experimental Film for Narcissus, Short Film and Video Festival (Canada, October–November 1984)


International Film Festival (India)
  • (1984) Golden Peacock for the Best Short Film of the Festival for Narcissus


Itinerant - American Film and Video Festival (USA)
  • (1984) Honorable Mention - Visual Essays for Narcissus

Award nominations


Academy Awards (USA)
  • 1953 Academy Award
    Academy Awards
    An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

     Best Short Subject, One-reel for Neighbours (1952)
  • 1958 Academy Award Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects for A Chairy Tale (1957)
  • 1964 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Christmas Cracker
    Christmas Cracker (film)
    Christmas Cracker is a 1963 animated short about Christmas, co-directed by Norman McLaren, Gerald Potterton, Grant Munro and Jeff Hale. The film consists of three segments: a rendition of "Jingle Bells" in which cutout animation figures dance, a dime-store rodeo of tin toys and a story about...

    (1963) (as co-director)

BAFTA Awards (UK)
  • 1960 BAFTA Film Award Best Animated Film for Short and Suite (Shared with Evelyn Lambart
    Evelyn Lambart
    Evelyn Lambart was a Canadian animator and technical director with the National Film Board of Canada, known for her early collaborations with Norman McLaren as well as her later films, as sole director....

    )

External links