Cumulative rating:       (2 ratings submitted)


Two friendly neighbors, enamored of a flower that grows between their houses, fight over who it belongs to, eventually killing their families and themselves.



Norman McLaren


Norman McLaren

Live Action Actor

Jean-Paul Ladouceur
Grant Munro


Norman McLaren


Norman McLaren


Clarke Da Prato


Wolf Koenig


Won the 1952 Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Documentary Short
Nominated for the Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Short Subject, One-Reel


The scene in which the two men kill each other's families was originally censored from the film, as it was considered too violent. In 1967, with the Vietnam War escalating, McLaren was asked to edit the scene back in; the scene was visibly salvaged from a lower-quality print, as evidenced by the muddier color compared to the rest of the film.
The film was made using pixilation, a technique in which live actors are effectively used as stop-motion puppets, shot one frame at a time.
McLaren created the synthetic music in the film by marking the soundtrack directly onto the film; the projector would read the markings McLaren made as sound.
At the end of the film, the moral, "Love your neighbor", is shown in 14 different languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Esperanto, Danish, Spanish, German, Italian, French, and English.

Video Information

Technical Specifications

Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Color Type: Color
Print Type: 35mm
Negative Type: 35mm
Cinematographic Format: Spherical

Reviews and Comments

From Toadette :

This film, to me, is an acquired taste; the techniques used are innovative, and I agree with the stated moral to love your neighbor, but something seems off about it. Perhaps it's Norman McLaren's political motivations for making the film. "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. My sympathies were divided at that time. I felt myself to be as close to the Chinese people as I felt proud of my status as a Canadian. I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war." Communist China, after all, was taking the side of North Korea, and thus was seen negatively in the West. Personally, I find McLaren's comment about his "faith in human nature" being reinvigorated by Mao's regime to be particularly disturbing, especially given the misery it would force upon the Chinese people McLaren so sympathized with. I'd rather not dwell on this further. Going back to the film itself, it's definitely worth at least two or three looks, mainly as an early example of the pixilation technique, but also as an interesting anti-war parable. The formerly censored scene of the two men's families being killed was intended as a metaphor for how innocents are often killed in war; the fact that the flower, which ignited the conflict between the two men, was itself killed can be considered a metaphor for how what started a war may be forgotten, or how the land two conflicting sides in a war may be fighting for can easily be destroyed itself, thereby rendering the conflict futile. The markings the two men develop towards the end may be a symbol of how combatants in a war can lose their humanity, perhaps being reduced to savages. Some may debate whether or not this is an animated film, given the predominant use of live actors. There is some stop-motion in the flower's movements, and the scene with the two men floating, not to mention one of the man sliding around on the grass before that, could not have been possible back then without pixilation. While not one of my favorite McLaren films, it's still one of his most well-known, and deservedly so. It got me thinking quite a bit about war; perhaps it will get others doing so, too.
See all comments by Toadette

From Toadette :

I stated earlier that this film was "an early example of the pixilation technique". Having looked around, however, there were actually much earlier examples; the film is a good example of pixilation nonetheless.
See all comments by Toadette

Click on thumbnail for full size image

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Submitted by Toadette



  • New title added by eutychus
  • Awards added by eutychus


  • Synopsis added by Toadette
  • Credits added by Toadette
  • Color type added by Toadette
  • Screenshots added by Toadette
  • Trivia added by Toadette


  • Comments added
  • Toadette


  • Print format added by TibbyH
  • Negative format added by TibbyH
  • Cinematographic format added by TibbyH


Norman McLaren: Director
  • Verified by onscreen credits (not always reliable)

Wolf Koenig: Photography
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website

Jean-Paul Ladouceur: Live Action Actor
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website

Grant Munro: Live Action Actor
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website

Clarke Da Prato: Sound
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website

Norman McLaren: Producer
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website

Norman McLaren: Animator
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website

Norman McLaren: Music
  • credits on the National Film Board of Canada's website