Like a lot of politically charged films, Norman McLaren’s “Neighbours” was controversial upon release and his since come to be regarded as an important classic. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada and the winner of an Academy Award in 1953, McLaren’s eight-minute short can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. Watch below.
The stop-motion short finds two men reading newspapers with opposing headlines in front of their cardboard houses when a flower sprouts at the halfway point between their respective homes. Both are drawn to it, eventually leading to a conflict: They put up a fence and use parts of it as swords, devolving more and more into barbarism as their feud escalates.
“I was inspired to make ‘Neighbours’ by a stay of almost a year in the People’s Republic of China,” McLaren once explained. “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.”