Norman McLaren & Evelyn Lambart: Lines Horizontal (1962)

“An experiment in pure design by film artists Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. Lines, ruled directly on film, move with precision and grace against a background of changing colors, in response to music specially composed for the film.”

… and what I’ve always loved about this film is the way it makes me think of every long train journey spent looking out of windows; at the rails beside me, at the power-lines above me, and at the whipping by of fences. This is the animation that first awakened me to the potential of animation and music working so closely together to turn a set of simple elements into something in turns mediative and thrilling. What starts flat soon becomes three-dimensional. What begins with the illusion of speedy side-ways travel ends with rolling ups-and-downs and closing-ups and opening-outs. Lines Horizontal proves we’re never just idly looking, we are instead transforming what we see.

Norman McLaren: Le Merle (1958)

We have a blackbird who likes to perch on our TV aerial, from where he sings his heart out with unfettered ebullience. He brings me joy. You know he just loves making all that noise. He also dashes about in the garden, picking up bark chip in his yellow beak and chucking it around in his search for a juicy worm or two. I actually think he waits until I’ve tided up before breaking cover from beneath the frothy valance of a fern to mess everything up again. I don’t mind though. It’s a game.

Norman McLaren’s Le Merle nails what is irrepressibly cheery about the blackbird. I’ve always loved this animation for its charm and its simplicity.