Apr 20, 2011
Norm McLaren's Neighbors
Norm McLaren was born in Stirling Scotland in 1914. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His earlier works involved scratching the enamel off of film and painting on it. Two of his earlier films won several prizes at the Scottish Amateur Film Festival.
McLaren moved to New York just before World War II, and asked to join the National Film Board of Canada a few years later. In 1952, McLaren made one of his most recognized shorts, Neighbors. The short is about two men who live in similar houses right next to one another. The men are friendly toward each other at the start of the film, but when a small flower blooms between their two houses, the men fight over who it belongs too. The men fight to a point where they harm one another and their respective families, without realizing they have killed the flower in the scuffle.
Although it is now one of McLaren's well known pieces, it was considered controversial at the time it was made.
"I was inspired to make Neighbors by a stay of almost a year in the People's Republic of China. 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." — Norman McLaren
Despite this, Neighbors had won both a Canadian Film Award, Academy Award and an Oscar, under the Documentary category.