Glowing in the Dark

Glowing in the Dark

Release date:


Running time:

48 minutes


Available on DVD

Closed Captioned:


Availability in North America:

Available in Canada

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  • Audience level:
  • Elementary School
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  • General

Glowing in the Dark captures the energy and vitality of neon--one of the oldest and most effective forms of advertising. Neon was first patented in 1923 by George Claude, a Parisian who sold over 9 million dollars in territorial licenses in the following six years. The glow of neon lights had swept across North America by the 1950's, enticing passers-by into a new urban culture. The catch phrase for this exciting industry was "bigger and brighter."

Set against a backdrop of spectacular footage of Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, Glowing in the Dark is an illuminating exploration into the vibrant history and contemporary use of neon. The movement, power, and raw exuberance of neon is revealed through a fascinating demonstration of how neon is made, a montage of notable neon installations, and commentary from a colourful array of enthusiasts including:

• John Atkin, a heritage advocate, graphic designer, and leading expert on the history of neon in Vancouver. In 1986, Atkin's enthusiasm for neon led him to graph the entire city of Vancouver, pinpointing the location of each neon sign;
• Alan Hess, an architect, critic, and author of Viva Las Vegas, who leads viewers on a tour of a graveyard for neon signs;
• Lili Lakich, a neon sculptor, instructor, and founder of the Neon Museum of Art in Las Angeles. She has created some stunning neon pieces and restored some of the great signs of L.A.'s yesteryear;
• Willem Volkersz, an artist who has brought neon indoors through his quirky exhibit, Domestic Neon;
• Bill Warren, an entrepreneur who was responsible for erecting some of Vancouver's biggest, brightest and most controversial signs. His most contentious neon creation was a 40-foot-high woman clothed in a bikini;
• Members of the band 54-40 talk about how they saved and restored Vancouver's Smiling Buddha Cabaret sign.


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