Friday, May 16, 2008

Begone Dull Care

Just a quick round-up of last weeks movies. I didn't watch much in the way of features, but I worked my way through the second disc of Norman McLaren shorts:

166. Begone Dull Care (1949)
167. Boogie-Doodle (1940)
168. Dots (1940)
169. Fiddle-De-Dee (1947)
170. Hen Hop (1942)
171. Hoppity Pop (1946)
172. Lines Horizontal (1962)
173. Lines Vertical (1960)
174. Loops (1940)
175. Mail Early (1941)
176. Mail Early for Christmas (1959)
177. Le Merle (1958)
178. Mosaic (1965)
179. NBC Valentine Greeting (1939)
180. New York Light Board (1961)
181. New York Light Board Record (1961)
182. Serenal (1959)
183. Short and Suite (1959)
184. Stars and Stripes (1940)

I don't have much to say about this lot except to note my admiration at the experimental nature of all of it and to note, in passing that the filmmaker tends to repeat himself, I have to give a shout out to "Beyond Dull Care" (1949), which is jaw-dropping, a first-class work of genius. The entire thing was painted and drawn directly onto frameless 35mm film stock, and yet, it still manages the not inconsiderable feat of having a cinematic pulse in spite of being completely abstract. This leaps into my own personal pantheon of animated favorites. But don't take my word for it, you can watch yourself, though the quality is pretty crummy. You can still get the gist:

On the whole, these films fall into a few categories in which McLaren is varying the theme (it's not by accident that jazz plays a big role in a lot of these films). You have the animated abstractions drawn directly on the film itself with pen and ink (e. g.: "Boogie-Doodle"), animated abstractions etched onto the film (e. g.: "Blinkity Blank"), formalist experiments with an optical printer (Lines Horizontal, Mosaic), and the pair of deranged shorts painted on frameless film (the other is Fiddle-De-Dee).

It occured to me while I was watching these that my cinemania has drifted pretty far into obsession, because this stuff is way into the realm of esoterica.

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