Friday, September 27, 2013

Why "Pas de deux" is Comparable to Chocolate Covered Bacon

I love short films. They're the Hershey's Miniatures of movies. You watch them when you just can't fit a feature length film into your diet. Not only are they convenient and compact, but they come in any flavor you could ask for. Craving animation? Try Paperman. Looking to try a silent mystery? Sherlock Jr 's the one you want. Or maybe you're a fan of the classics: A Trip to the Moon. Despite your personal taste in genres, like Hershey's Miniatures, you can't just have one. [Side-note: If you happen to be one of the rare individuals that can eat just one of these delicious chocolates I envy your self-control. Also there might be something inherently wrong with you. Sorry.]

Anyway, during one of my short film binges, I came across Pas de deux. Keeping with my chocolate analogy, Pas de deux could be compared to chocolate covered bacon. Would I eat it again? No. Do I admire the originality of the composition? Absolutely.

Directed by Canadian filmmaker, Norman McLaren, Pas de deux was embraced instantly by the filmmaking community. Not only did it receive 17 awards, (one including the 1969 BAFTA award for Best Animated Film), it was also nominated for an Academy Award. The short is an interpretation of a ballet-style dance called, get this: the Pas de deux. Content, however, is not what launched McLaren's piece into movie history. The real beauty lay in the filmmaker's extraordinary method of production.

The Canadian cinematographer used light and photography to create a stroboscopic collection of images. First, McLaren took photograph after photograph of the dancer/s; backlit and in front of a black backdrop. This lighting scheme, along with his choice of high contrast stock, contributed to the piece's radical overall look. This ain't your run of the mill Instagram filter.

Then, using the "step and repeat" process and an optical printer, McLaren overlaid the photographs to great some of the most interesting and surreal cinematography I've seen. I can not help but to deeply admire the fact that Norman McLaren manually did the job of both the videocamera, and the editing software.

Regardless of whether you're discussing movies or chocolate; one thing can be said of both. You don't need to consume a whole portion to appreciate the taste.

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