For he goes whirling down, and down whitewater, that’s where the log driver learns to tread lightly.
The Log Driver’s Waltz
I don’t often feature news on this site, but this morning I was watching CP24 and found out that one of my dreams had come true. The National Film Board of Canada was finally featuring many of its vast collection of films for viewing on the internet. This afternoon I have been enjoying such classics as The Log Driver’s Waltz, and The Cat Came Back. I have also been discovering new films. For those of you unfamiliar with the NFB, it is a public institution dating back to the 1930’s and has been particularly influential in the promotion of Canadian animation, as the two shorts above demonstrate.
NFB films have won Academy awards in the foreign documentary category, and have left a significant mark on Canadian culture. I recommend taking some time to browse through the collection, and I will be taking a deeper look at many of this films in future posts.
One of the more controversial films, Neighbours, is regularly shown on Moviepix here in Canada. So this was not my first viewing of it. I now understand the context of the film, and the filmaker’s (Norman Mclaren) purpose in making it. One of my friends commented that “if I were the type to get high I would get high to this,” which sums up the strangeness of the live action stop motion technique Mclaren uses. He took the method usually reserved for creating claymation monsters and characters, and used it with live actors. It allows him to move his characters about in strange and trippy ways, and facilitates his storytelling. There is no dialogue in the film, but the action leaves little to the imagination. We have two men fighting over a flower that grows on their property line, and seems to have hallucinogenic qualities. It is an obvious allegory for war, and when it was produced in 1952 the reality of armed conflict was still fresh from WWII and the ongoing Korean war, not to mention the growing Cold War with the Soviet Union. It violently and vivdly portrays the futillity of fighting, in a way that is both shocking and thought provoking. Although the effects are amateurish by modern standards, this cutting edge film succeeds at its experiment and at its message. Well worth a look.