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Two ballet dancers perform a dance enhanced with surreal multi and after-image effect visuals.


Norman McLaren

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Margaret Mercier Margaret Mercier ... Dancer
Vincent Warren Vincent Warren ... Dancer


Two ballet dancers perform a dance enhanced with surreal multi and after-image effect visuals.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

October 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Duo See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


Created using an optical printer to reprint images from one frame onto another. See more »


Referenced in McLaren on McLaren (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

The art of movement
9 December 2008 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

I don't much like ballet. In fact, of all the popular dances out there, ballet strikes me as the most uninteresting and tedious. At least, that was until I watched Norman McLaren's 'Pas de deux (1968).' Suddenly, every movement seemed gentle and graceful, hypnotic and inspiring. McLaren uses optical effects to bring out the majesty of human motion, to create a dizzying duet of silhouettes, dancing a routine that slows down and transcends time and space. Utilising an optical printer to reprint images from one frame of film to the next, McLaren elegantly manipulates the typical flow of time and motion. This was an achievement with which the animator was well-acquainted. In his most famous short, 'Neighbours (1952),' Mclaren parodied the typical mechanics of movement, in which pixilation (stop-motion of live-actors) was employed to create a disorientatingly-unreal morality play – though I found that particular short to be too unsubtle and obvious to be of any real note as a war-allegory.

'Pas de deux,' on the other hand, is completely graceful is every respect. Human bodies diverge, are occasionally suspended in time, but often dance alongside their mirror-images. Finally, with perfect precision, the corresponding images fuse into one single entity, and the ballet continues. Time is a fleeting concept; once a particular moment has passed us by, it is lost in eternity and can never be retrieved. McLaren recognises movement as the chief indicator of passing moments, and so, as he toys with the movement of human bodies, he also toys with human notions of time, capturing and replaying otherwise lost moments for us to experience once again. By the film's end, the two ballet dancers are all but indistinguishable, perceived only as a blur of transitory silhouettes, moving as a subtle mist that only vaguely resembles the human form. Like translucent ghosts, the dancers perform their routine, every movement, rather than existing only for a fleeting movement, remaining on screen long enough for us to saviour its grace and dignity.

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