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“Neighbors” by Norman McLaren


Norman McLaren is one of the most prominent abstract filmmakers. He was a restless and brilliant researcher who after a lot of studies and experiments managed to turn inanimate objects into actors and vice versa. This is a technique called “pixilation” and it was used very rarely before McLaren started applying it. The essence of pixilation lies in placing human beings in front of animation camera instead of cartoons or drawings.

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Namely pixilation, as Norman McLaren stated, was used while creating “Neighbors”, a short eight-minute film which caused a lot of arguments and discussions. Most of historians consider “Neighbors” an animated film whereas only some parts of the film are really animated. Most of the film is shot in fast motion and the desirable effect is achieved by means of stop-frame techniques. Taking into consideration the notion of an animated short, the film “Neighbors” indeed cannot be named an animated short or a documentary short as a completely different technique is used while shooting it. Pixilation is usually used for certain psychological or physical effects but as well as animation it is achieved by means of stop-camera cinematography. That’s why two of these techniques are very easy to confuse. Watching the film more attentively one can notice that but for the flower there are no animated objects at all. Stop-camera technique was used to show, for example, levitation, but no animation took place.

Unbelievable violence portrayed in this film cannot leave the audience indifferent. The effect produced by this violence does not let people who watched it think about technical side of the film as feeling aversion to the greediness represented in the film one stops thinking about visual effects or the quality of the film. In our cruel world full of crimes and violence such films like this should be censored for bloody murder scenes irrespective of the fact that in those times when wars were so frequent and so destructive people got used to blood and violence. It is very hard to believe that this film didn’t produce any impression on people who have gone through the wars and who have seen such bloody fights with their own eyes. A distinction line must be drawn between wars and regular life as what people got used to see during the war should not necessarily be present in their every-day lives. It is impossible not to feel any aversion while watching this movie.

It is worth mentioning that the scene where one man kills wife and children of the other man was first censored and cut out because of its extreme violence but during the Vietnam War the public’s opinion changed and Norman McLaren was asked to insert the scene back. Maybe on the one hand the film can be considered informative, educational and to some extent philosophical but on the other hand what McLaren presents in his film cannot be shown to people as the difficulties and problems they face every day undermine their nervous system even without watching such movies.


Nevertheless, McLaren managed to get Oscar for “Neighbors” and this film helped him gain international acknowledgement. This film is also a winner of Canadian Film Award as well as Academy Reward where it was nominated for Short Subject and Best Documentary. The film “Neighbors’’ was McLaren’s favorite one and it clearly stands apart from his other creations.

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"“Neighbors” by Norman McLaren." StudyCorgi, 17 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "“Neighbors” by Norman McLaren." October 17, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "“Neighbors” by Norman McLaren." October 17, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Neighbors” by Norman McLaren." October 17, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Neighbors” by Norman McLaren'. 17 October.

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