NFB’s Norman McLaren – delightful La Poulette Grise

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Norman McLaren’s contribution to film and art in Canada. It was fun rediscovering him after so many years.   I originally planned to post something about Hen Hop, but stumbled across another work I had completely forgotten about.

La Poulette Grise is a masterpiece of grace and beauty. McLaren drew each frame by hand, in pastels, creating a gentle and ethereal visual. The film runs for 5min 33 seconds and took 3 weeks to draw. What is extraordinary is HOW he did it. Each frame was painstakingly drawn and photographed on the same board. Yes, the entire film was done on one canvas. McLaren would create a frame, photograph it, make changes to the same drawing, photograph it, repeat until he had sequenced the entire film. It’s staggering to image working this way. No backups, no redos,  one chance to get it right.

Renowned Acadian contralto, composer and teacher Anna Malenfant provided the charming soundtrack.

La poulette grise by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada