A Pilgrimage to Canada
Paying tribute to a master.
I recently found myself watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and was surprised by the opening credits sequence, which throws a variety of images at you at breakneck speed, with textures and scrawled images jumping around the screen. I was surprised not only because it was awesome, but also because it is totally done in the style of Norman McLaren's direct film animations.
Norman McLaren was an animator who created created tons of short films for the National Film Board of Canada, which is kind of like the Canadian PBS. One of the incredible techniques he mastered was making visual music films without a camera--by painting, drawing, and scratching directly on film stock. One of his most well-known films (which he made with Evelyn Lambart) was Begone Dull Care, which the opening credits of Scott Pilgrim seem to be referencing. In just eight minutes, you watch a mind-blowing procession of lines and shapes dancing and colors erupting.
Where to Find It
You can find Begone Dull Care on Leonard Maltin's Animation Favorites from the National Film Board of Canada and on Norman McLaren: The Master's Edition, a set of seven DVDs collecting all of the man's films. Other fantastic animations to check out are Blinkity Blank, Synchromy, and Canon.
McLaren is one of my absolute favorite film-makers, and I think more Americans should know how awesome his animations are. Take a look for yourself--open your eyes and see the music!
Photo credit: Norman McLaren & Evelyn Lambart, still from Begone Dull Care
Chris Gray is an Extra Help Librarian. When he's not reading science fiction, comics, or cookbooks, he likes to listen to all kinds of music, hang out in parks looking for animals, cook, and make abstract video art.