Very true. I might take this a tiny bit further and wonder aloud whether some perceived him as some kind of industrial filmmaker for much of his career. After all, he did "New York Lightboard," to help build Canada's tourism industry, twenty years into his tenure at the National Film Board.zedz wrote:I think one of the important aspects of McLaren's career that sets him apart from so many acknowledged 'experimental' filmmakers - and this is something that has nothing to do with the nature of his work - is the institutional support he received. It's so unusual to see an experimental filmmaker nurtured in the way that McLaren was, and by his government, no less, that his career narrative and body of work doesn't really resemble most other experimental filmmakers, with their continual struggle for resources and oppositional positioning within their local film culture.
While I do stand by what I said earlier about the exceptional level of creative freedom he enjoyed at the NFB, I think there was an exception to this: the World War II era. Many of his early films there, as great as they are, were used as war effort PSAs, notably as advertisements for war bonds, whereas McLaren was a pacifist. He made them in his own way, certainly -- "Hen Hop" is, in form, about the farthest thing from a propaganda film I can imagine. But maybe just looking at the form misses an important part of the point. But I wonder if some might have seen his position at the NFB as artistic compromise, either because they misunderstood it or even out of envy.