Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Neighbours (French title: Voisins) is a 1952 short film by Scottish-Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren.

Produced at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, the film uses the technique known as pixilation, an animation technique using live actors as stop-motion objects. McLaren created the soundtrack of the film by scratching the edge of the film, creating various blobs, lines, and triangles which the projector read as sound.

Two men (Jean-Paul Ladouceur and Grant Munro) live peacefully side by side in houses made of cardboard, but when a flower blooms between both their houses, they fight each other to the death over the ownership of the single small flower. 

Neighbours has garnered the label "one of the most controversial films the NFB ever made". Further, the eight-minute film was politically motivated:
"I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People's Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao's revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. (...) I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war." — Norman McLaren
However, the version of Neighbours that ultimately won an Oscar was not the version McLaren had originally created. In order to make the film palatable for American and European audiences, McLaren was required to remove a scene in which the two men, fighting over the flower, murdered the other's wife and children.

During the Vietnam War, public opinion changed, and McLaren was asked to put the sequence back in. The original negative of that scene had been destroyed, so it was salvaged from a positive print of lower quality.

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