I really don’t want to write this article, because no matter what words I use to describe the animated short films I saw at SXSW shot films – amazing, magical, inventive, cerebral, colorful, weird, mind-bending, thought-provoking – they won’t do justice to seeing these [insert descriptor here] creations yourself. It’s a shame there isn’t a bigger platform for shot cartoons, and I sincerely hope these shorts will be made easily available to the public soon (well, the Pixar one definitely will).
I should probably note that much like when I saw JACO and confessed to knowing next to nothing about making music, I am now confessing I know even less about animation. However, as I love music, I also love animation, as it makes for some of the most creative examples of artistic expression.
Anyway, onto the shorts. There were quite a few, so I’ll just be talking about the two I knew about going in – Lava and World of Tomorrow (where the image comes from) – and one that I knew nothing about – Whole – but it stuck with me afterward.
A lone volcano wants to fall in love, and so he sings a song about it. It’s a Pixar short, so of course it’s good. Actually it’s kind of funny; as much as I love Pixar, not one of their movies has ever been able to make me cry (nope, not even Up or Toy Story 3), but Lava came pretty close. I was actually fighting back tears, and if I was more comfortable with my emotions or anyone else’s, I probably would have just let go and let the waterworks flow. Don’t get the wrong idea though, this isn’t sadness throughout; like most Pixar project it covers a wide spectrum of emotions. And the song was pretty catchy.
World of Tomorrow
A four year old girl is taken on a tour of the future by her clone. The short’s vision of what lies in store for humankind is largely pessimistic, but not without humor and heart. It’s a bizarre tribute to mankind’s innovation and incompetence with a developing child’s commentary running throughout. You won’t believe stick figures could make you think and feel so much – unless you’ve seen Don Hertzfeldt’s other work.
A heartbroken young woman goes on a quest to find her spirit animal. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to 2D and 3D animation. I mean 2D is always superior, right? Well maybe I was wrong (about many things), because the 3D Whole was as stylish as they come. The short had a look that was somewhat Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, somewhat the video game Limbo, and somewhat a bunch of other stuff I’m probably not recognizing.