National Film Board of Canada puts its archives online, free


64 Responses to “National Film Board of Canada puts its archives online, free”

  1. Kabur Naj says:

    Sweeeeet! (Can a CBC Radio archive be far behind? Pretty please?)

    Cory (and other fans of early film comedies) take note: The Railrodder, which is listed in Matt’s (@#30) list of upcoming releases for February, was one of Buster Keaton’s final movies and hearkened back to his silent film days. The film is distinctly Canadian in that it features Keaton riding the CP rail tracks straight across Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

    As for what else I’ll be looking out for, there’s really so much to list:
    –> Any animations by: Richard Condie, Cordell Barker, Torill Kove, Ryan Larkin, etc.
    –> Other bits of animated Canadiana: The Hockey Sweater, Blackfly, Log-driver’s Waltz, etc.
    –> The cheesy films that I remember seeing in school: Hinterland Who’s Who, The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes, Tara’s Mulch Garden, etc.

    But what I’m really looking forward to is finding gems among all the other films that I’ve never seen before.

  2. teknocholer says:

    Damn, Takuan, I was just about to say Blackfly, since Paul567 beat me to Log Driver’s Waltz. Is there no Wade Hemsworth left for me to spread the word about? Anyway, good work, NFB. My tax dollars were never better spent.

  3. Takuan says:

    Paddle to the Sea

  4. bazzargh says:

    Oh, nice. This is much better than their old site (which had just the animation archives up in a non-streaming quicktime format IIRC)

    Anyway my pick:

  5. minTphresh says:

    rilly?this is where ‘Paddle to the sea” comes frum? wow! i wonder if they have the “blaze glory” shorts…those were the ones with stop-motion guys on motorcycles/horses that seem invisible. hilarity ensued. and didn’t they do the animated ” radical ideas threaten societies and then become societies which are threatened by radical ideas….” cartoon. pure awesomesauce!

  6. Lis Riba says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t see one of my favorites: “What on Earth!” by Les Drew and Kaj Pindal.

    This Oscar-nominated 1966 animated short is credited to the National Film Board of Mars, a ‘documentary’ explaining what scientists have been able to glean from their first glimpses of life on the third planet.

    Anyone else have fond memories of this short?

  7. obscurica says:

    I sure would like to see “Ride For Your Life” get released.

    It features some unique music by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, not available anywhere else. It’s not an amazing film, but the music is worth hearing.

    Here’s more info on the Mother’s recording engagement:

  8. Takuan says:

    well, they have about 700 online now, there are 14,000 on file, email them with your picks. Maybe they will listen.

  9. gentlevillage says:

    This is wonderful. I haven’t seen “The Big Snit” in over fifteen years. My favorite childhood cartoons were some NFB animation shorts from a VHS my dad bought on a family trip to Vancouver when I was a little guy.
    Good job, Canada!
    Good job, boingboing!

  10. paperfingers says:

    Update: The Railrodder starring Buster Keaton (which was mentioned above) is now online:

  11. erindipity says:


  12. sinclair_mckay says:

    When “Not a Love Story” makes it up then the archive will be complete. I predict that the archive will never be complete.

  13. Daemon says:

    It’s all about Canada’s other national anthem:

  14. bazzargh says:

    Lis Riba: Over on twitter, @thenfb say they have 14000 films in the archive, the 700 up so far are just the start, and they’ll be adding more each week. You could ask them if its coming?

  15. z7q2 says:

    Hope they get this one up soon:

    This predates (and inspired) the Ken Burns effect. The images used in the film were taken on glass plates, and were recovered from a greenhouse in the Yukon that were using them as windows.

  16. marley88 says:

    I love The Big Snit. It’s so great to be able to watch all our favorite Canadian shorts online. Lots of good shorts still coming from Canada today… One example is the animated short contest going on at

  17. virginia cynic says:

    try nahanni if you think that you have ever worked hard or taken a tough wilderness trip/hike canoe etc
    just 18 mins

  18. Anonymous says:


    Boards of Canada has its archives put online, free

    (NB: only long out-of-print/never-issued stuff on that torrent, as far as I can tell. Nobody’s getting paid, nobody’s getting ripped off either)

  19. Bevin says:

    So many of my family’s sayings come from The Big Snit! I am so happy to see my favourites online! I haven’t seen many of these since childhood!

    (Please excuse the overuse of exclamation points. I have just finished laughing ’til I cried while watching The Big Snit for the first time in years.)

  20. farrellmcgovern says:

    Unfortunately, as was pointed out to me…Canada’s NFB has simply become a repository for past glory. Once one of the most innovative film and animation studio in the world, now only provides us with these timeless, but old classics.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that this stuff is now available like this, but I do mourn the death of the initiative that created these wonderful film and animation classics.


  21. jansolnicka says:

    thank you very much for the link. there are wonderful vids on that site.

  22. spike55151 says:

    My vote is for “HIGH STEEL”:

    ….and what a delightfully distracting post! I could /did/ spend hours there! WELL DONE!

  23. takeshi says:

    Many of David Cronenberg’s early films were sponsored by the NFB. I really hope that Rabid ends up here, as it’s one of his creepiest efforts.

  24. Takuan says:

    OK, here’s an easy-to-become timeless waiting for a documentarist with minimal funds: Tomslake, Canada.
    A tiny community torn by bombings, police stupidity, corporate greed, life and death, bribery,neighbor against neighbor, death of the hinterland, environmental rape – a metaphor for the planet. Go on, tell me I’m wrong.

  25. btb says:

    Pas De Deux ( is more trippy, more amazing, and more beautiful than I remembered. Have a glass or two of wine, turn out the lights and put this one on.

  26. paperfingers says:

    Hey I’ve been working on the site with the NFB web team here for the last year or so.

    Here’s a list of the upcoming films for the next few months. They are mostly determined by rights, etc.

    Thanks for the shout-out, Cory, and all the great comments, everyone!


  27. gr00veNU says:

    this totally makes up for us having a completely useless parliament…

  28. Ugly Canuck says:

    So when will the US Library of Congress/AMPAS make their old stuff free to view on the web?

  29. dragonfrog says:

    Your choice of The Big Snit as the illustrative example is clearly the correct one.

  30. mbobich says:

    Time to make my own Boards of Canada album.
    If ya don’t know who that is, lookemup.

  31. mkultra says:


  32. Crispinus211 says:

    Caroline Leaf!


  33. elk says:

    PSYCHED to hear such a nod to the big snit. I favorite since I first saw it during an animation festival back in the 90s.

    “you’re always SHAKING your eyes!”

  34. TJ S says:

    I don’t mean to harm you, and I won’t.

    The End

  35. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I completely forgot about this!

  36. btb says:

    This is great!

    I’d like to especially call attention to Norman McLaren’s masterpiece, Begone Dull Care – a 1949 animation McLaren made by painting directly onto the film, music by Oscar Petersen Trio.

  37. arkizzle says:


    Way to show the way NFB!

  38. Panpan says:

    Like others here, my favorite is Pas de Deux

    It’s one of the most beautiful things I ever saw.

  39. movalator says:

    For me it was always ‘The Sweater’

  40. Takuan says:

    The Ballad of Crowfoot

  41. madwyn says:

    Does anyone know where I could view Blaze Glory? (Yup). I thought this film was hillarious and also Opening Speech? We used to rent a film projector and a screen at the local library and watched the alot of these films growing up. We had a riot viewing these. I would love my kids too see them.

  42. Chris Spurgeon says:

    In my family that ecstatic hand gesture that the guy makes when he realizes it’s 2 o’clock and therefore time for “Sawing For Teens” is THE de-facto signal we all make when we’re thrilled by something geeky. Wonderful!

  43. Alys says:

    This is fantastic!
    As a kid, some of my favourite memories of elementary school were when the teacher would put a reel of film on the projector and we’d watch a cartoon from the NFB. I’m pretty sure I saw The Sweater at least once a year (usually around playoff season), and the Log Driver’s Waltz used to show up on TV on a pretty regular basis.

  44. Loony says:

    WTF! I can’t even smoke during a total nuclear war?

    Those anti-smoking nazis have gone to far!

    How is it that I’ve gone through over 40 years without having seen “The Big Snit” until now?

  45. pauldrye says:


  46. peter_van says:

    That one is a trip. Also, awesome.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Okay, “The Big Snit” is truly classic, but where’s “Bob’s Birthday”? Between this and “Bob and Margaret” not being released properly on DVD, I’m seriously bummed. Hopefully soon they will show again!

  48. Takuan says:


  49. eustace says:

    If we are sharing the ones we have enjoyed, than I shall stick to the Truth.

  50. Uncle_Max says:

    Nuclear war – take cover under a refrigerator.

    Was this how Lucas came up with that brilliant escape for Indiana Jones?

  51. isopraxis says:

    If you haven’t seen Murray Siple’s Carts of Darkness you’re missing out on something that may change your perspective of shopping carts forever.

  52. changescat says:

    AAACK! I am so happy about this news. It’s awesome to see everyone listing their faves. Actually, the extent to which I quote “The Big Snit” and “Getting Started” in daily life is surprisingly a lot.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Its wonderful that all of these films are now freely available on the net now; I can remember watching a lot of these, (along with the “short circuitz” clips that used to played on YTV) during my childhood.

    If you like the Big Snit, check out “Mindscape”, “The Sand Castle”, or “Blackfly”. Great Stuff.

  54. dragonfrog says:

    BTB – thanks for pointing out Begone Dull Care! If music videos were like this, I might actually watch them from time to time.

    I’d love to see that one in a higher fidelity format – there were parts where it felt like all I was seeing were compression artifacts.

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