The film-work of Norman McLaren
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the film-work of Norman Mclaren in the context of his objectives. The thesis is divided into three parts, based on chronological divisions in McLaren's life. The first part deals with McLaren's formative years in Scotland and England and examines his early exposure to the social, artistic and institutional influences that were to shape his filmic output. The second part deals with Mclaren's maturation in the USA and Canada. His reaction to the contrasting working environment he found in each of the two countries is examined. In order to show McLaren's development more clearly, both parts one and two are based on a chronological sequencing. The third part of the thesis examines specific issues in relation to Mclaren and his work and as such is concerned principally with his mature output. McLaren's films contain incongruities, conflicts and apparent inconsistencies. In exploring these aspects of his work, this thesis examines the technical processes McLaren used in making his films, the oscillation shown in his films between abstract and representational imagery, and the degree of accord between McLaren's social objectives, his artistic objectives and his filmic achievements. The strands of the exploration often interweave as common causes or explanations arise. As a greater understanding of McLaren's motivation, influences and working methods develops, a surprising measure of consistency on Mclaren's part becomes apparent. Through an understanding of the dichotomous tensions in McLaren's works, a clearer comprehension of the paradox of the divergent treatments accorded to McLaren and his works is also reached.