Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Graveyard Gambol!

What do you get when you cross "the purest Halloween music ever written" with 1930s abstract animation? Well, sometimes you get Fantasia, but today you get "Spook Sport"!

"Spook Sport" was made in 1939 by one of the world's first female experimental filmmakers, Mary Ellen Bute. Her colorful, dancing forms were usually set to classical music, and at one time played in movie theaters across the country, prefacing first-run features. Over time, however, decent prints of her work became rare, and as a result, her films have fallen into obscurity with the general public and become desirable to presitgious film collections like the George Eastman House and the Museum of Modern Art.
"Spook Sport" was co-created with animator Norman McLaren, and features spooks, ghosts, and bats dancing in a midnight graveyard to Camille Saint-Saen's Danse Macabre. Although a recent article in The Atlantic did call Saint-Saen's piece "the purest Halloween music ever written," Bute's high-spirited film has more in common with a rollicking Merrie Melody than its 1940 rise-from-your-grave-and-dance counterpoint, Disney's Night on Bald Mountain. Won't you join these spooks and ghosts as they cavort and make merry in a groundbreaking film ballet?

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