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Stars and Stripes (1939)

6.5
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A John Phillip Sousa march plays as pen-and-ink images, drawn directly on film, appear. Against a blue background, white fireworks explode. Parts of a flag (red and white stripes and white ... See full summary »

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A John Phillip Sousa march plays as pen-and-ink images, drawn directly on film, appear. Against a blue background, white fireworks explode. Parts of a flag (red and white stripes and white stars on a blue background) move to the music's rhythm. The lines become hearts, circles, and stars: Cupid's arrows join the fun as do Stars of David and other rapidly moving lines. Sometimes the screen is dominated by patters of straight lines, then by squiggles and blobs. The movement of the shapes is rapid as they morph from one symbol to another. Red, white, and blue fireworks become comets, stars, and suns. A few reddish clouds appear at the finale. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Short | Animation

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20 September 2011 (Greece)  »

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Asteroessa  »

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America on the March
26 October 2010 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

One would be forgiven for mistaking 'Stars and Stripes (1939)' as the work of a patriotic American. Norman McLaren, a Scottish-born animator, moved to America in 1939 – on the cusp of WWII – and produced this three-minute animated film as a appreciative tribute to his host country (McLaren would move to Canada, where he achieved his greatest success, two years later). Is 'Stars and Stripes,' perhaps, a subtle call-to-arms for the then- neutral United States? McLaren uses John Philip Sousa's famous military march "Star and Stripes Forever" to set the tone. Stars, stripes and other symbols dart around each other, as though assembling for duty. I spotted the Star of David in there; an ode to America's admirable cultural diversity? McLaren – like Brakhage, eschewing use of a camera – drew pen- and-ink shapes directly onto 35mm film, and the brilliant, radiant colours were added later in the process.


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