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Thursday, December 15, 2005

McLAREN, Norman

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Birth: April 11, 1914, Stirling, Scotland on
Death: January 27, 1987 in Quebec, Canada.


Director, Actor, Animator.

Bio Summary

Norman McLaren was an experimental animator. Best known for his use of pixillation in the 1953 Academy Award winning short “Neighbors”, McLaren made countless of films, exploring various of techniques from animation, pixillation, superimposition, and stop motion, during his lifetime and was awarded for many of them. Norman McLaren made abstract films that encompassed the beauty of movement of any object, activity, or person to the synchronization of a custom soundtrack.

Early Life/Family

The youngest of the three children of William McLaren and his wife Jean Smith McLaren. McLaren’s father was a interior designer along with most of the father’s side of relatives were house painters and interior designer, while his mother’s family were farmers. At seven, McLaren was first introduced to the world of animation with Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse cartoons, and Walt Disney’s “Silly Symphony” series.


Initially, Mclaren enter the Glasgow School of Art in 1932 to major in interior design. He began making short films during his first year in college that amazed the local newpapers to dub him “young genius of the Glasgow School of Art”. Soon after, McLaren shift towards animation and continue to produce more films.

Career Outline

British General Post Office Film Unit in 1936 to 1939
Film Center
Guggenheim Museum
Canadian National Film Board 1941 to 1984
Retired in 1984

Comments On Style

McLaren experimented with pixillation and pioneer many new techniques with animation and sound to create various expressions with the theme of movement in mind.


Russian filmmakers Vsevolod Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein



“Film is changing, and it can't help but keep changing.”
“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.”



(1949) Special Award for Dots
(1950) Special Award for Begone Dull Care
(1952) Special Award for Around is Around
(1952) Special Award for Now is the Time
(1952) Special Award for After the Storm
(1953) Special Award for A Phantasy
(1953) Special Award for Neighbours
(1958) Arts and Experimental for A Chairy Tale
Shared with Claude Jutra
(1962) Arts and Experimental for Lines Horizontal
(1965) Arts and Experimental for Canon
Shared with Grant Munro
(1968) Special Award for Pas de Deux
Columbus International Film and Video Festival (USA)
(1984) Honorable Mention for Narcissus
Dance on Camera Festival (USA)
(1984) Gold Star Award for Narcissus
Festival international de cinéma de court métrage (France)
(1985) Special Mention for Narcissus
Festival international du film romantique
(1985) First Prize - Madame de Stael Prize, (France, May 1985) for Narcissus
Genie Awards (Canada)
(1984) Special Achievement Genie
Golden Sheaf Awards / Short Film and Video Festival (Canada)
(1984) Golden Sheaf Award - Best Experimental Film for Narcissus, Short Film and Video Festival (Canada, October-November 1984)
International Film Festival (India)
(1984) Golden Peacock for the Best Short Film of the Festival for Narcissus
Itinerant - American Film and Video Festival (USA)
(1984) Honorable Mention - Visual Essays for Narcissus


Academy Awards (USA)
Oscar - Best Documentary, Short Subjects for Neighbours (1952)
Annie Awards (USA)
BAFTA Film Award Best Animated Film for Pas de Deux (1968)
Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1975

Related Links

Theory: Chuck Jones on the Art of Animation

Bibliographic References


Contributors To This Listing

Minh-Tri Phan

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