Neighbours
The 1950s: Television and the Move to Montreal - A selection by Albert Ohayon

Neighbours

| 8 min
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In this Oscar®-winning short film, Norman McLaren employs the principles normally used to put drawings or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower.

For more background info on this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.

This film contains scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Canadian theatrical distributors were not too impressed when they were shown Neighbours in 1952. Most thought it of poor technical quality as well as gruesome. Most American distributors agreed, yet the film was picked up and shown theatrically stateside, leading to a surprising Academy Award for Best Short Documentary. The Oscar® led to theatrical showings around the world. Interestingly, the film was censored by an American educational distributor, who felt that the scenes of the women and babies being attacked were too much to show to children. It wasn’t until 15 years later that Norman McLaren would restore the film to its original version.

Albert Ohayon
From the playlist: The 1950s: Television and the Move to Montreal

McLaren had been very intrigued by French trick films from the early 1900s in which everyday objects were animated frame by frame. He did some experimenting in his student films, and later he animated a household of furniture in a film for the General Post Office in London. He then wondered about the possibility of animating people frame by frame. This curiosity culminated in the extraordinary parable Neighbours, in which two men behave like cartoon characters in a tale both funny and ferocious. McLaren called the technique pixillation. The term is now universally misspelt as pixilation, which has an entirely different dictionary definition. McLaren made the term up from the word “pix,” an abbreviation for picture.

Donald McWilliams
From the playlist: Norman McLaren: Hands-on Animation

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Credits
  • director
    Norman McLaren
  • producer
    Norman McLaren
  • animation
    Norman McLaren
  • music
    Norman McLaren
  • photography
    Wolf Koenig
  • sound
    Clarke Daprato
  • cast
    Jean-Paul Ladouceur
    Grant Munro

  • Chezzi

    Considering this film is 63 years old I believe it to be a masterpiece. Some great stop-motion sequences and the soundtrack sounds ahead of its time

    Chezzi, 5 Jan 2015
  • The directing seems pretty corny nowadays, but the acting aside, McLaren and Grant Munro really did pioneer the use of pixilation in this film. Thus, but oddly, the Oscar for Best Documentary.

    dualie, 14 Mar 2014
  • mykem07

    what did i just watch?

    mykem07, 7 Mar 2014
  • barblak

    In 1954, I was 11 and in Grade 7. Our young teacher, Murray Stern, showed us this film. We were stunned. He asked us eagerly what we thought, and we couldn't put it into words. I remember how disappointed he looked. It was the Cold War. We were being prepared for the world to blow up. It didn't, but I never forgot this film, and I always regretted not being able to thank him for the experience.

    barblak, 10 Mar 2012
  • lewtaller

    One day, as a kid in the early 60's, I was innocently watching TV and this short came on. It was spellbinding, and it scared the hell out of me!

    lewtaller, 9 Mar 2012
  • nlartist

    Great animation.

    nlartist, 24 Dec 2011
  • soulsister98

    haha loool!

    soulsister98, 2 Nov 2010