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.
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