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Free Animation! | Welcome Spring with 3 Refreshing Ryan Larkin Shorts

Free Animation! | Welcome Spring with 3 Refreshing Ryan Larkin Shorts

Free Animation! | Welcome Spring with 3 Refreshing Ryan Larkin Shorts

Mesmerizing and verging on the psychedelic, Ryan Larkin’s early shorts are always a breath of fresh air.

A visual artist first, Larkin attended the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Art School, where he studied under Group of Seven painter Arthur Lismer (our short film about Lismer here) before joining the Film Board in the early 1960s. There, he learned animation techniques from Norman McLaren and soon went on to craft his own inimitable style.


Photo: Looking almost too young to smoke, a dapper young Larkin poses in front of charcoal sketches from Syrinx (1965), his first film.


Photo: A slightly older Larkin, goofing off for the photographer.


Photo: A groovy Larkin from the early 1970s. ~ Long hair, don’t care. ~

Celebrate springtime, which officially sprung this week, with these 3 groovy shorts from this animation pioneer.

Cityscape (1966)

Cityscape is Larkin’s second film. Just over a minute in length, it shows, in chiaroscuro, a curious landscape through which one man (many?) evolve in surprising ways. Drawn in charcoal, the film rests on strong contrasts between light and dark, foreground and background, and is propelled by the interaction between the lush, breathing scenery and the silhouettes moving through it (being turned into it?). Check it out below.

Cityscape , Ryan Larkin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Walking (1968)

Nominated for an Academy Award, Walking is Ryan Larkin’s best-known film. Using a variety of techniques and displaying a real eye for movement, the 5-minute short is a masterful study of how people go about putting one foot ahead of the other. Just stunning.

Walking, Ryan Larkin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Street Musique (1972)

Unbridled and hypnotizing, Street Musique is a playful visual improvisation inspired by musicians busking on the street. In typical Ryan Larkin fashion, there isn’t much to chew on, narratively, but the quick succession of images and techniques, here richly coloured and mandala-like, there simple lines that twist and transmogrify into dozens of boisterous creatures and motions, make for a unique and oddly satisfying 8-minute trip.

Street Musique, Ryan Larkin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

For more on Ryan Larkin, check out Ryan, Chris Landreth’s Oscar-winning portrait of Larkin, which explores his darker later years, and Spare Change, Larkin’s last film, completed posthumously with the assistance of Laurie Gordon and a team of young and devoted animators.

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  1. I knew Ryan in the late 60’s, I was at the time attending Emily Carr School of Art and design. Although he worked for the Film Board camera time was at a premium so he often worked at the school in the basement film animation studio. I help Ryan shoot many portions of Walking and Street Misique. Still, have a few ink drawings of his and 8 mm film from the sessions that he passed on that wasn’t used. Ryan was a true artist and one of a kind.

    — lorncell,
  2. Mesmerizing. The ability to draw the flow of human energy is a rare and impressive gift. Outstanding.

    — Andrea Kelly,
  3. inspiring free flowing energy

    — Leona Cochrane,
  4. Thank you as always for breathing life into our common humanity by showcasing it’s art.

    — Stephen Verchinski,
  5. very nice. enjoyed them all. very uplifting and freeing. great talent.

    — jp,
  6. Thank you! I had not seen these short masterpieces before.

    — gul ramani,

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