Spook Sport - Mary Ellen Bute

Rental Format(s): Digital File

Alternate title: Mary Ellen Bute#s Spook Sport, A Graveyard Gambol
Co-makers: Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth, Norman McLaren
Production: Ted Nemeth Studios
Animation: Norman McLaren
Original format: 35mm sound film 1.37:1
Music: Camille Saint-Säens
Courtesy Mary Ellen Bute, Theodore Nemeth, Yale Film Study Center

"Animated by McLaren, utilizing his adroit ink-on-film technique, Bute's film visualizes Saint Säen's music. It features colored globes, ellipses, and triangles that move ghost-like over monochromatic backgrounds, communicating the notion of spirits rising from a graveyard. Commercially Bute's most successful animation, it ran for months at Radio City Music Hall." -Jan-Christopher Horak

At the outbreak of World War II, Norman McLaren (1914-1987) left London for New York, where he remained over a year before joining the National Film Board of Canada and becoming a world leader in experimental animation. Almost destitute in New York, McLaren worked briefly for the Guggenheim Museum and for animator Mary Ellen Bute. -Cecile Starr

Infatuated with the new non-objective paintings of Kandinsky and others, Texas debutante Mary Ellen Bute (1906-1983) devoted twenty years (1932-1952) to creating thirteen abstract motion pictures in black-and-white and color, with familiar classical music accompaniments. Many were shown at New York's Radio City Music Hall. In 1966, she made a feature based upon James Joyce, Passages from Finnegan's Wake. -Cecile Starr

Before filming Mary Ellen Bute's short abstract films (1931-1953), Theodore "Ted" J. Nemeth (1911-1986) learned his craft creating special effects for feature film "trailers." As head of his own New York studio, founded in 1940 the year Bute and he were married, he made documentaries, commercials, and short subjects, two of which were Academy Award nominees. -Aram Boyajian

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