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Hell Unltd

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Hell Unltd

Norman McLaren and Helen Biggar’s urgent work of animated agit-prop uses rapid editing to create an incisive polemic against arms spending.

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1936 19 mins

Director: Helen Biggar

Overview

Norman McLaren and Helen Biggar’s urgent work of animated agit-prop utilises a mixture of film forms (from found footage to title cards and staged action) stitched together with rapid editing to create an incisive and disorienting polemic against government armament spending.

Made in 1936 as fascism was on the rise throughout Europe, the film was the result of collaboration between animator McLaren and sculptor Biggar, made during their tenure at the Glasgow School of Art. The idea was to use a rapid succession of violent images to jolt the viewer into demonstrative action against a new war, decades before such Brechtian techniques were employed by artists like Jean-Luc Godard. The result is one of the most striking and memorable of all animated political films.