This feature length documentary is a journey into Norman McLaren’s process of artistic creation. A cinematic genius who made films without cameras and music without instruments, McLaren produced 60 films in a stunning range of styles and techniques, collecting over 200 international awards and world recognition. Drawing on McLaren's private film vaults, a gold mine of experimental footage and uncompleted films, this film explores McLaren's methods, including his celebrated "pixillation" technique.
Ages 16 to 18
Media Education - Documentary Film
Media Education - Film Animation
Media Education - Film and Video Production
Warning (if any): Some violent imagery (more abstract)
Brief “lesson launcher type” activity or a series of inquiry questions with a bit of context:
Documentary exploring the films, art and ideas of Norman McLaren.
McLaren says that if he had computers at his disposal, he would have used them immediately. If McLaren was born in the modern age, do you think he would have the same level of creativity? Is it more difficult to be creative in modern times since more has been done and we have a record of it?
Are the animation techniques McLaren describes still commonly used? What is the value of animating by hand? What elements of it do we use today or have we stopped using, and why?
How are McLaren’s films linked to music and dance, as he explains? What connections do you see between the different types of media?
Picasso was said to have enjoyed McLaren’s film Hen Hop. What do you think he would have found most interesting or enjoyable about the film?
Is film still a new medium with very few traditions? What has changed since McLaren’s time? He describes painting as a dying medium. Do you agree with this statement?
How do different political events influence art? For McLaren, how did different periods of political and social turmoil affect his art?
Reflecting on McLaren’s career in film, analyze whether his repertoire matures or changes over time. How is Narcissism a reflection on his life as an artist? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that narcissists can contribute meaningfully to the art world? Can narcissists contribute in similar ways to other parts of society? Why or why not?