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The Eye Hears, the Ear Sees (1970)

The career of Scots-Canadian animation innovator, Norman McLaren.

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The career of Scots-Canadian animation innovator, Norman McLaren.

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a hidden gem
9 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Eye Hears, the Ear Sees is a wonderful documentary that analyzes and appreciates Norman McClaren's animation films. Direct interviews with McClaren help in understanding the making of these wonderful shorts and insightful commentary only adds to the overall effect. The film was made in 1970, and as a teacher I used it to show students of both film and creative writing how to think outside the normal lanes of thought and perception. One of the great treasures of the documentary is that many of McClaren's shorts are presented in their entirety, including Hen Hop, Pas de Deux, Neighbors, Spheres, and several others. These films have a beautiful synesthesia, mixing vision and sound until the sound and vision become two aspects of the same thing. McClaren's works are wordless, and his comments on them are enlightening. His recurring imagery of bird and egg gain cumulative meaning when they are seen in the series of his films together. The title of the documentary comes from Bottom's speech in Midsummer Night's Dream, when he wakes from his mystical adventures in the forest and says, "The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen...what my dream was." This documentary is a fitting appreciation of a great talent. It reminds the viewer of just how great film can be.


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