Norman McLaren (1914-1987)
Keep Your Mouth Shut (1944)
Lines: Vertical (1960), with Evelyn Lambart
The Eye Hears, the Ear Sees (documentary, 1970. Directed by Gavin Millar)
Norman McLaren was a Scottish-born Canadian animator and film director known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
McLaren was born in Stirling, Scotland and studied set design at the Glasgow School of Art. His early experiments with film and animation 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 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 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 was a judge.
Grierson, who was at that time head of the GPO Film Unit, hired him for the GPO as soon as McLaren completed his studies.
After making a few films for the GPO in London, McLaren moved to New York City in 1939, just as World War II was about to begin in Europe.
At the invitation of Grierson, he moved to Canada 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. Besides the brilliant combination of visuals and sound, the film has a very strong social message against violence and war. In addition to film, McLaren worked with UNESCO in the 1950s and 1960s on programs to teach film and animation techniques in China and India. His five part "Animated Motion" shorts, produced in the late 1970s, are an excellent example of instruction on the basics of film animation.
Norman McLaren in UbuWeb Sound