Ryan Larkin

walking

Ryan Larkin (1943 – 2007) was a Canadian animator who rose to fame with the psychedelic 1969 Oscar-nominated short ‘Walking’ and the acclaimed ‘Street Musique’ (1972). In later years Ryan was plagued by a downward spiral of drug abuse, alcoholism and homelessness, but towards the end of his life found himself back in the limelight when a 14-minute computer-animated documentary on his life, ‘Ryan’ by fellow Canadian animator, Chris Landreth, won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and screened to acclaim at film festivals around the world. ‘Alter Egos’ (2004), directed by Laurence Green, is a documentary about the making of ‘Ryan’ that includes interviews with both Larkin and Chris Landreth as well as with various people who knew Ryan at the peak of his success.

Larkin studied under Arthur Lismer (a member of the Group of Seven, Canadian landscape painters in the 1920s) before starting to work at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada in the early 1960s. At the NFB, Larkin learned animation techniques from the ground-breaking and award-winning animator, Norman McLaren. Larkin made two acclaimed short animated films, ‘Syrinx’ (1965) and ‘Cityscape’ (1966), before going on to create ‘Walking’ (1969). ‘Walking’ was nominated for an Academy Award in 1970 in the category Best Short Subject, Cartoon, but lost to ‘It’s Tough to Be a Bird’ by director Ward Kimball (one of Disney’s ‘Nine Old Men’). He went on to direct the award-winning short ‘Street Music,’ which premiered in 1972 and would be his last project.

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