This week’s short is a classic one. Take a look at this hypnotic, dreamlike dance film, made by Canadian pioneer Norman McLaren.
This week’s short shows a ballerina dancing by herself (or actually with images of herself), before being joined by a male dancer, to perform the pas de deux; a dance duet in which two dancers, typically a male and a female, perform ballet steps together.It’s an incredibly strong, hypnotic short, by animator Norman McLaren, created near the end of his long career, for the National Film Board of Canada. By the way of lighting, and using cinema effects, McLaren creates an experimental sensual experience.
What we see is silhouettes of dancers in the dark, but what they tell us is much more. We learn about the beauty of the feminine and masculine human physique, through the way they gracefully move. McLaren captures these moments with slowed reaction time so we can focus on every move they make. It’s like they are leaving their own body, creating an effect that looks like a shadow trying to keep up with its owner. It’s a dreamlike, hypnotic atmosphere, in which you don’t know what is real and what’s not. As the film advances, so does the editing. The images become more layered and surreal, only to end in the most beautiful way possible; the man and the woman, holding each other tender and looking into each other’s eyes.
Norman McLaren (11 April 1914 – 27 January 1987) was a Scottish-born Canadian animator and film director known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada. He was a pioneer in a number of areas of animation and filmmaking, including drawn-on-film animation, visual music, abstract film, pixilation and graphical sound.
His awards include an Oscar for the Best Documentary in 1952 for ‘’Neighbours,’’ a Silver Bear for best short documentary at the 1956 Berlin International Film Festival for ‘’Rythmetic’’ and a 1969 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film for this week’s short: Pas de Deux. Pas de Deux was also nominated for an Oscar, for Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects.