Len Lye

film 1 of 5


Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 26, 2015

The greatest cigarette commercial ever made! As mentioned, the pioneering Scots/Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren would eventually become much better known for doing a lot of things that Lye explored, first. (Some of that abundance: http://www.nfb.ca/explore-all-directors/norman-mclaren) This needn’t, this shouldn’t be a contest. Both enacted their various works with equal joy and virtuosity. A difference—not better, not worse, just a difference—is that McLaren tended to concentrate on one or two things at a time. Here he’d paint on the celluloid’s surface and make explicit the film’s path through the gate, there he’d cause his doodles to switch from abstraction to characterization.

Len Lye often all this stuff at once, or at least one thing after another, in the same film. The colours, the moving background and the suggestions of collage are especially nicely rendered. Kaleidoscope is also a happy demonstration of how beautifully music and picture can work together. All by itself Don Baretto’s Cuban Orchestra might sound a little generic, and by themselves Lye’s modernist/painterly images might be a little elusive or exhausting. Together they do a lovely job of mutual anchoring. A joyful movie.