114. Spook Sport – Mary Ellen Bute

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SUMMARY: An abstract interpretation of a ghostly dance in a midnight graveyard.

WHY IT’S HERE: Mary Ellen Bute was one of the first female experimental animators and ‘Spook Sport’ is one of her most charming creations. Enlisting the help of the young Norman McLaren, Bute created a fantastical, fiendishly simple piece which has similarities with some of the more abstract moments in ‘Fantasia’, which Disney was working on at the same time. Amusingly, the film opens with a key, identifying what each of the shapes in the film represents, an ingratiatingly generous gesture for an abstract animator! It makes ‘Spook Sport’ all the more enjoyable, clueing in the viewer to exactly what’s going on. It’s refreshing to see a film of this kind that isn’t completely shrouded in mystery and met only with ambiguity when questioned. ‘Spook Sport’ is unique among its abstract counterparts for this unusually commercial dimension.

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