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Photo Friday | 10 Great Pictures From the Set of Norman McLaren’s Neighbours

Photo Friday | 10 Great Pictures From the Set of Norman McLaren’s Neighbours

Photo Friday | 10 Great Pictures From the Set of Norman McLaren’s Neighbours

Conflict is ugly and brings out the worse in us.

Few works of art have driven that message more forcefully or efficiently as Norman McLaren’s Neighbours. In under 10 minutes, the legendary NFB filmmaker illustrates what happens when possessiveness and greed take over.

One of the NFB’s most controversial films ever – if you have seen it, you understand why – it is nonetheless one of the Film Board’s most iconic and celebrated works. The film won an Academy Award® in 1953 and was later added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, a list of the most significant documentary heritage collections in the world.

Neighbours was shot in the summer of 1951, somewhere near Ottawa, with a crew of four: McLaren, Wolf Koenig on camera, and the duo of Grant Munro and Jean-Paul Ladouceur as actors. Check out our archival photographs of the making of this masterpiece, below:


The feud escalates.


Norman McLaren, dreamy as ever.


Painstaking pixilation.


“Wouldn’t war paints make everything extra scary?”


Mirror mirror in McLaren’s hand, who’s the most disturbing of them all?


Anger really adds years to your face.


You should see yourself when you get angry!


The collateral damage.


The innocent victims.


The man with the vision. (Sigh.)


Watch the film:

Neighbours, Norman McLaren, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

For more on Neighbours, read this.

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  1. I first saw “Neighbours” in elementary school. It made me laugh and disturbed me too. It stands as a timeless masterpiece.

    When I actually got to work at the NFB in the mid-80’s, one of my cherished memories was getting to know Grant Munro. He was great fun to be around and always had great stories from the glory days.

    Nor will I forget walking down a deserted hallway one day only to find Norman McLaren walking towards me. A rare sighting, as he was visiting with current animators. A tall, gangly, presence in a beat up straw hat who sauntered pass me, as I tried to restrain myself by not blurting out anything embarrassing. My best memory from those days at the NFB.

    — Angel Narick,
  2. Colin Low is part of the pantheon of other great NFB filmmakers and while his loss is understandable, there will be others to take his place.

    As a teacher, I used NFB films both in the classroom and beyond, to inform pupils about Canada and the world. I can’t recall how many times I showed Neighbours to illustrate the creativity inherent to the function of the NFB. It seems that everything was possible at the NFB.

    The NFB makes me proud to be a Canadian and I continue to buy and show its films.

  3. I remember seeing that same film years ago when I was in school. We all got a good laugh out of it at the time.

    — Kev Myles,

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