A Chairy Tale

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A Chairy Tale
Directed by Claude Jutra
Norman McLaren
Evelyn Lambart
Starring Claude Jutra
Music by Ravi Shankar
Chatur Lal
Maurice Blackburn
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Release date
  • 1957 (1957)
Running time
12 minutes
Country Canada

A Chairy Tale (French: Il était une chaise) is a 1957 stop-motion pixilation short film co-directed by Norman McLaren and Claude Jutra, and starring Jutra and a most uncooperative chair. The film humorously portrays Jutra's attempts to sit on the chair - and it on him - set to the music of Ravi Shankar and Chatur Lal.[1]

The film begins with a seemingly normal chair onscreen. Jutra enters, carrying a book, and attempts to sit in the chair so he can read his book. The chair unexpectedly moves out from under him. The man's persistent attempts to sit in the chair become increasingly frenetic and increasingly violent ... but only to himself, not to the chair. Finally, it dawns on the man that perhaps the chair will let him sit on it for a while if he will first allow the chair to sit on him for a few seconds. This gambit succeeds, and all ends happily.[2]

As with McLaren's equally acclaimed short Neighbours, the message of the film is that cooperation is a better means to resolve disputes than force. As with Begone Dull Care, the opening titles are presented in a few other different languages, including German (Die Geschichte vom Stuhl), Spanish (El cuento de una silla), Czech (Pohádka o jedné židli), and Italian (La Fiaba di una Sedia).

A Chairy Tale is a National Film Board of Canada production and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Live Action) in 1957. The film received a special BAFTA Award in 1958.[3]

The film's title[edit]

"Chairy" is a made-up word, punning on "chary", a British adjective seldom encountered in American English. "Chary" has no precise definition, but approximately means "cautious, nervous, apprehensive". The McClelland & Stewart Canadian Dictionary defines "chary" as "prudent".


  1. ^ Weldon, Carolyne (2 August 2012). "Hot Shots: Norman McLaren, Claude Jutra and Ravi Shankar on Set in 1957" (Includes production photos). NFB blog. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Fulford, Robert. "Our very own genius". National Post. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "A Chairy Tale". Collection. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 

External links[edit]