Blinkity Blank (1955)
Article 5740 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Norman McLaren
What it is: Abstract animation… sort of
The story of a conflict between a bird and its cage.
The plot description is from the one on IMDB, and though that’s not quite what I had in mind while watching, it’s as good of a plot description (if an abstract film of this sort can really have a plot) as any. I’ve got a five-DVD set of McLaren’s work, and I’m just starting to delve into it, and it appears that the introductory screen to each short features an enlightening quote from McLaren. For this one, the quote reflects that he would often try to make a purely abstract short, but he would realize that the audience would be bored so he would add a certain amount of representational animation to the mix (such as things that resemble birds). And he does; there are clearly some bird-like images throughout this short, and with the addition of representation comes the hint of something resembling a “plot” (bird vs. cage?) as well.
Well, whatever his conscious intention, the end result is fairly engaging and fun. I don’t know if the music used here was made specifically for the short, or if McLaren built his short around the music, bit it does add to the flavor quite a bit; it’s somewhere in a realm between Igor Stravinsky and Carl Stalling. At any rate, I’m beginning to look forward to seeing more of McLaren’s work, and I’ll review the ones that have listings in the Walt Lee guide.