Blinkity Blank

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Blinkity Blank
"Every second of this is a delightful surprise."

This short from pioneering Scottish-Canadian animator Norman McLaren is a playful pick-me-up that beautifully showcases his skills at synchronising animation with music.

The images themselves have been literally scratched into the film stock, giving the film a textural quality reminiscent of those drawings we all did in school where you would put colourful wax crayons on an underlayer and then cover it with black before scratching through to create a surprisingly vibrant image. McLaren's animation is equally vibrant and is not so much in a dialogue with Maurice Blackman's jazzy score as it is a quirky game of tag.

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As instruments give a blast of sound, the screen briefly springs to life with images. Some are simple flashes of animated sparks, while others become more recognisable, so that a tale of bird - or at least the hint of a bird - gradually takes constantly moving shape. These may be simple lines and the merest suggestion of objects but they couldn't pack more personality if they were drawn in intricate detail, each step the bird takes on screen is brimful of emotion so that, though it may be quite abstract, we are always in touch with its little bird brain.

Although a work of real craftsmanship in terms of its synchronisation, McLaren has enough simplicity in his imagery to make it easy to engage with, while imbuing it with wildly imaginative movement and ideas that make every second of this a delightful surprise. The film - which won the short film Palme d'Or in Cannes in 1955 - was described by François Truffaut as having "all the fantasy of Giraudoux, the mastery of Hitchcock, and the imagination of Cocteau". It's also pure and simply, great fun.

Reviewed on: 14 May 2022
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Experimental abstract animation about a bird.

Director: Norman McLaren

Year: 1955

Runtime: 5 minutes

Country: Canada

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