Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Pair of Shorts

Shorts films are in many ways the redheaded step-child of filmmaking. While the narrative form is honored every year at the Oscars in both animation and live-action form, you'd have to encounter a serious Oscar buff who would be able to name even this past year's winner. (I know Paperman won for animation, but Best Live Action Short Film...Um, was it about the Holocaust? A person with a disability? Oh, I know–a heartwarming tale about someone who overcame an obstacle. Oh, hell. Thankfully the internets can tell me it was Curfew.) And also thanks to the internet, short films have an outlet to actually be seen. It isn't necessarily that people don't want to watch shorts, it's just that without the wonderful world wide web it makes it nearly impossible for them to find an audience.

Also, thanks to Nathaniel over at The Film Experience,  a pair of B&W short films (one animated, one live action) are the subject of this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. And, wouldn't you know, both are available online for free! Here and here. Go watch them!

Both the Eagleman Stag and Death to the Tin Man concern the hubris of men and the fate that befalls them after the severing of appendages.

Eagleman is a precocious child that grows up to be a world-famous entomologist (or, in his words–a fucking legend). When he is denied funding for an expedition, he cuts off the heads of all his insects. But, he discovers the Eagleman Stag is able to regenerate an entirely new one. He then begins an experiment on himself...

Bill is "the town pariah, the most hated man in a 20 mile radius". Considered a danger to the community, his girlfriend's father puts a curse on him. His ax causes him to cut off his limbs, but his friend is able to provide him with alternates made of tin...

The Eagleman Stag

The stop-animation in The Eagleman Stag is so meticulously detailed. The shot I've chosen above is only a brief second in a series of images that are flashed on screen in a montage. After Eagleman injects his brain with the insect's regenerating cells, we are taken on a fantastical journey through time and space. Things that occured previously in his life are reflected in a mystical way. I love how the book is opening up as tendrils of life-force flow out of it, inviting the audience in. It's as if they're reaching out to our own minds to release the infinite possibilities of our own imaginations.

Death to the Tin Man

Calling to mind a marriage of Wes Anderson and early Tim Burton, Death to the Tin Man has a wonderful sense of tone and atmosphere. The quirky set-up and deadpan dialogue begin to give way to a heartfelt (but never saccharine) story told through the filter of magical realism. The image I've chosen was, for me, the moment I was hooked. Like the image in Eagleman's Stag, it's a moment of unleashed imagination–but, this time, of the filmmaker. His unique vision is being shared with us through the medium of short film.

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