Lines Horizontal

BR Lines HorizontalThis is another collaboration between Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart, with a soundtrack composed and performed by Pete Seeger. As the name suggests, the visuals consist almost entirely of horizontal lines (and a handful of slightly vertical ones), moving up and down in different configurations and speeds. The visual effect is mesmerizing, and it’s great hearing a slightly more experimental side of Pete Seeger’s music.

Age: 2+
Child rating: 8/10
Adult rating: 9/10
Running time: 6 minutes
Available free on the Nation Film Board of Canada website

Le Merle (The Blackbird)

BR Le MerleThis short film by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart (National Film Board of Canada) is based on a French-Canadian folk song about a blackbird who keeps losing body parts and having them return three-fold. The animation is semi-abstract, with simple white lines and circles representing the bird on a slowly shifting sky-like background. The song is sung by Trio Lyrique, with instrumental accompaniment, arranged by Maurice Blackburn. We all enjoyed this, and M. laughed aloud a number of times.

Age: 1+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 10/10
Running time: 4 minutes 30 seconds
Available free on the National Film Board of Canada website


BR SynchromyThis is M.’s first abstract film, and despite his protests that he didn’t want to watch something abstract, he actually quite enjoyed it. Both the animation and the music are by Scottish/Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, with the music directly derived from the shapes on the film. M. kept saying: “It’s magic! It’s magic!” I asked him if the shapes made him think of anything, and he said the teeth on the shovel of a backhoe digger – though he’s particularly prone to thinking of backhoe diggers these days, so it may remind you and/or your child of something else! I’m suggesting this for ages 3+ because it is fairly fast-paced, but some people might enjoy it for younger kids too.

Age: 3+
Child rating: 8/10
Adult rating: 8/10
Running time: 7 minutes
Available free on the National Film Board of Canada website