12 March 2021

Norman McLaren and Claude Jutra's Il était une chaise | A Chairy Tale (1957)


This is a weird ten-minute short in which there is no dialogue, just Indian Music (mainly of Ravi Shankar) and Claude Jutra with a moving chair. I'd say there are essentially three parts to the story, the first of which is the chair eluding the man. Jutra enters reading and wants to sit on the chair, although every move he makes towards it the chair escapes from him. No matter how fast the man is the chair still escapes him, like a human inching or running away.

And then in the second section, shall we call it, the man is at grips with the chair, able to handle it, play with it, turn around with it, and yet still the chair doesn't allow him to sit on it. So the man decides to sit and read on the floor.

That is too much for the chair, which begins to move towards the man, circle him, but he initially avoids this object which appears to be courting him. Finally the man tentatively makes moves towards the chair, but it plays hard to get, until in the end the man can sit in peace. And they live happily ever after.

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