This film is part of Free

The Ladder

This abstract animated short by Yellow Submarine director George Dunning reaches great heights.

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1967 5 mins


George Dunning (1920-79) is best known as the director of psychedelic Beatles feature Yellow Submarine (1968), but that was just one part of his fascinating career in animation. An alumni of the National Film Board of his native Canada and the famed UPA studio in the US, Dunning was brought to London to work on animated adverts for the new ITV. His experimental, creative streak came along with him and was manifested in a series of independent animated shorts such as this.

In both The Ladder and the better-known The Flying Man (1962), Dunning painted his characters in literal broad brush strokes, delineating the action with as few touches of paint to cel as possible. Common to all his short films of this period is his playful use of the film frame, with characters appearing and disappearing through invisible barriers. And it is here that Dunning’s fingerprints on the Yellow Submarine, such as the 'Sea of Holes' sequence, becomes most apparent. He memorably continued his deconstruction of the animation process even further in Damon the Mower (1972; also on BFI Player).