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Film / Neighbours

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Neighbours is a 1952 short film by Norman McLaren, produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

It is an anti-war parable. The 9-minute short opens with two men in a grass field. They are dressed almost identically, each smoking pipes and reading newspapers, each relaxing in lawn chairs, two crude cardboard houses sitting behind them. They seem to be getting along fine—until a single flower pops up on the ground at the exact midpoint between the two men. Each smells the flower. Each really really enjoys smelling the flower. Each, in turn, starts getting more possessive about the flower. Eventually they break out in violent conflict.

Received an Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject, which was pretty weird, because the film isn't a documentary.

Compare A Chairy Tale, another Maclaren short that uses a similar pixilation technique.


Not to be confused with Australian soap opera Neighbours, or any of the various American films which have been called Neighbors without the U.


  • An Aesop: "Love your neighbour" is repeated in several different languages onscreen at the end of the film.
  • Allegory: Obviously meant to be symbolic of the futility of war.
  • Apple of Discord: Two former friends fight to the death over a goddamn flower.
  • Creator's Favorite: Years after making this short, Norman would state that if all of his films were destroyed and he could only save one, he would choose this one as he felt the message was important for the world.
  • Escalating War: It starts with the men crowding each other as they jostle to smell the flower. It ends with violence and destruction and six dead.
  • Infant Immortality: The short starts to get truly disturbing right at the point where each of the men murders the other's wife and baby.
  • Advertisement:
  • Kill 'Em All: All six characters dead by the end of the movie.
  • Mushroom Samba: The two men react very strongly to the flower. They literally float.
  • Property Line: Once it becomes apparent that the flower is located equidistant between the two men, they start getting very interested in where the property line is. Each manages to draw the property line to put the flower on his side.
  • Silence Is Golden: No dialogue.
  • Stop Motion: Straddles the line between live-action and animation. For this film McLaren used the "pixilation" technique in which live action actors are shot with a stop-motion camera to provide a surreal animated effect.


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