A surreal story of two neighbours' destructive feud over a flower.



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Complete credited cast:
Grant Munro ...
Jean Paul Ladouceur ...


This film, shot in pixilation (a kind of stop-motion animation with actors), is about two neighbours who come to barbaric blows over a flower that straddles the property line. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Love your neighbor, meaning, to treat others as you would have them treat you.


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Release Date:

1963 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Voisins  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Production is by the "old school" animation process with live characters; essentially stop motion technique, frame by frame . See more »


Featured in Creative Process: Norman McLaren (1993) See more »

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NEIGHBOURS {Short} (Norman McLaren, 1952) ***1/2
21 February 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

In January 2007 I went to London expressly to attend part of a two-month long Luis Bunuel retrospective held at the National Film Theatre where I caught up with all but one of the remainder of his films. During that same period, a concurrent season of movies featuring Humphrey Bogart (on the 50th anniversary of his death) and Lauren Bacall and another one dedicated to Canadian animator Norman McLaren were also held. Although I am a fan of Animation in general, I was a bit wary of McLaren's work falling in the abstract branch of it but had always been interested in checking it out regardless since the late British film critic Leslie Halliwell deemed his best-known piece BEGONE DULL CARE (1949) worthy of his full **** rating. While the latter was indeed one of several shorts I managed to catch during that one particular evening, I cannot say I was sufficiently impressed to follow it up on my own time, as it were. Still, learning that 3 more films of his were nominated for the Best Short Subject Academy Award, I decided it was high time to reacquaint myself with McLaren's oeuvre given my ongoing Oscar marathon.

The 8-minute short under review is the only one of the three to emerge victorious and deservedly so; bafflingly, this won in the Best Documentary Short category while also being nominated for Best Short Subject. The simple plot deals with two neighbors who spend a lazy afternoon basking in the sun and reclining on a chair reading newspapers in front of their respective house but, tellingly, the headlines of one newspaper is completely belied by the other's. Suddenly a flower spurts out from a seed sown right beneath their feet and, after their initial mutual admiration for it, each one lets greed get the better of him and both start claiming it as their own private property. This sets off a battle of wills that soon turns increasingly physical, irrationally violent and ultimately fatal for all three parties; the scene where one erects a barricade between the two houses enclosing the flower on his side of the fence while the other relocates the latter to his advantage or having the flower use its petals to, as it were, take cover from its battling masters adds a nice touch of Surrealism.

However, the film's real coup comes at the end when, having trampled on the flower during their struggle, both men are overtaken by a feverish bloodlust that sees them enter each other's home and murder the occupants (a wife and a baby in both cases) through vicious kicking or throwing about! By this time, the violent men have adopted Indian warpaint on their faces and, when they eventually expire, the once-important white fence is transformed into crosses on each respective grave that have been dug where the houses used to stand. With time, more flowers bloom both on the graves themselves and on the earth surrounding them. The end titles, then, is an animated collage of the phrase "Love Thy Neighbor" in various languages. Although the film was originally issued sporting a monotone electronic score by McLaren himself (also available on "You Tube"), I elected to watch it accompanied by a score (recorded in 2010) by an obscure outfit named Versa that very effectively counterpoints the on screen action.

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