The GPO Film Unit (1933 – 1940) had the pre-mass communications role of promoting the services of Britain’s post office, but also became a hot-bed of experimentation in sound and image when film was still a relatively new medium. GPO filmmakers such as Len Lye, Lotte Reininger and Norman McLaren remain the most renowned experimental animators in film history.
GPO Film Unit | Len Lye | 1936 | UK | 4 | mins | Col
One of the earliest experimental colour shorts, Rainbow Dance was made by Len Lye the year after ‘Colour Box’ and a year before ‘Trade Tattoo’. This Post Office savings propaganda film is a colourful and surreal fantasy demonstrating why you should save for a rainy day; the rainbow represents all the wonderful holiday activities that can come from saving, “…the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for you…”
For Rainbow dance, Lye has moved away from using purely abstract patterns, instead using a colourised live action figure almost like a cartoon character. This figure dances between backgrounds that combine Lye’s familiar stencilled patterns, graphic images such as a train and a tennis court, and some stop animation. Accompanying the joyous chaos is an uncredited jazz score.
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