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Lines Horizontal

(Lignes horizontales)

Year: 1960
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 6 min
Director: Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart
Producer: Norman McLaren
Animation: Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart
Sound: Joseph Champagne
Music: Pete Seeger
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

An experiment in pure design, Lines Horizontal is one of three variations on a single theme by animators Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. Taken together, these three films – the others are Lines Vertical (1960) and Mosaic (1965) – arguably represent McLaren’s most complete expression of the universality of abstract forms. They also reflect visually the shape of the classical musical form, in which McLaren became interested after an exposure to Indian music that also influenced A Chairy Tale (1957).

Lines Vertical was made by engraving lines of varying widths directly onto 35mm black leader, then passing the black-and-white version through an optical printer and exposing it through coloured filters onto negative colour stock. Lines Horizontal was made by projecting the finished print of the vertical version through a prism so the image appeared at a ninety degree angle. The lines move with precision and grace against a background of changing colours, in response to music composed by American folk artist Pete Seeger and performed on wind and string instruments.

Mosaic is a combination of Lines Vertical and Lines Horizontal in which the lines were erased and only the points of intersection were retained. Lines Horizontal won a 1961 Canadian Film Award for Best Arts and Experimental Film.