Short Film Reviews: 'Paperman' (2012) and 'The Blue Umbrella' (2013)
They may be short, but they have enough of a heart to last a lifetime.
I really love animated shorts; it makes me happy that Disney and Pixar have been releasing them more frequently in theatres over the last couple of years.
Paperman, though, is not one that I watched in theatres. It was released with Wreck-it-Ralph in 2012, and I actually didn’t know that until I looked it up on Wikipedia. Truth be told, I don’t remember how I first saw or even heard of this quick flick. All I know is that, somehow, I found it on YouTube – and absolutely fell in love with it.
It’s your traditional love story told in an urban fairytale setting: a man meets a woman on his way to work at a train station in the most adorable way possible – one of his papers accidentally gets blown on her face, and she gets her lipstick stains on it. From there, he is determined to see her again upon discovering that she is in a building right across the street from his workplace. Hilarity and utter cuteness ensue afterwards.
First off, let's discuss the animation. It’s the exact midway point between 2D and 3D animation, and it is most certainly a style that I would like to see more often, particularly in full-length features. It just works in ways that 3D animation cannot. You could do so much more with 2D in terms of design and expression, and it really makes the characters seem more organic while popping out in that charming way Disney is known for.
I like that this a mostly silent black and white film. It pays homage to old-fashioned cinematography, while updating things with a hint of classic Disney magic. Expressions are oftentimes more than enough to convey raw emotion, but I think that adding minimal voice acting helps to literally breathe life into our leads.
The film proves that, when you get down to it, there’s never one concrete reason why we fall in love. The connection just simply has to be there, and when you open your eyes to the enchanting beauty of love and all its possibilities, you’ll get your explanation without any necessary logic.
I think that this short brings up a very interesting message, given our technological and production-crazed society. The man risks his job trying to reconnect with this woman, and people would probably say that he’s completely gone bonkers for doing so. Well, I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say that at the end of the day, honestly, nothing really matters if you’re unhappy with your current situation. Having someone who supports you and understands you in the deepest of levels can make it all worth it. And this guy definitely mustered up the courage to go for it.
But even all that aside, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, please do me a favour and warm your fuzzies with this sweet little film. Rest assured, the simple power of love still conquers all.
2. 'The Blue Umbrella'
How do you make a film about two umbrellas romantic? Apparently, Disney knows the answer.
This cute little number was shown before Monsters University back in 2013, and after seeing that, I would’ve been much happier walking out having only seen this short film. Better yet, given how creative the premise is, they could’ve done a lot more with this one. But, the studio thought better of it and decided to go with the "less is more" approach.
The result is overloaded with cuteness. In this five minute short, you’ll catch more feelings than you ever will Pokémon.
The idea is that this sweet little blue umbrella meets and falls in love with a pretty red umbrella while their owners are walking down the same street with a crowd of people and their bland-looking umbrellas.
However, they get separated, and the blue umbrella eventually gets blown by the wind and sent flying around every which way, with only the environment around him to save him from becoming completely destroyed. Will he ever be reunited with his lovely parasol? Sometimes chance really can have power.
Aside from a totally unusual yet adorable romance, what really drives this short home is the use of animation. In the beginning, it all just looks like the real world, but then you’ll quickly realize that the city is alive. It is used in creative ways to interact with the blue umbrella. I just love how friendly the environment is to him, and how much it wants him to find his owner and be with his newfound sweetheart.
I also like that their owners go the 101 Dalmatian route and become a pair, the only difference being that you don’t ever see their identities along with the rest of the humans in this short. I like it that way, because you never will know whether they’re CG or actual people. It’s quite clever, actually, definitely giving this short a unique look.
The blue umbrella is also so expressive, full of love and curiosity when viewing his surroundings. When bad things happen to him, you genuinely feel awful, though nonetheless relieved when the environment is helping him out. The sound design in this really stands out; and you really feel the weight and impact of the blue umbrella getting “hurt.”
The red umbrella is super cute, too, when she shows interest and concern for him. They really do make a lovely pair. I’m forgetting that they’re umbrellas.
But it really does remind me a lot of when I was a child with my prized possessions. Once you give these things names or even a sense of being aside from their intended function, they suddenly do become a lot more meaningful and memorable.
Sometimes you have to wonder whether the idea of being materialistic really is as awful as everyone makes it out to be. I mean, sure, these things won’t come to life or show you human affection or anything (or will they in the future?), but it does make you think about the things you take for granted every day, and what happens when you ignore them.
If you’ve got a few minutes, definitely check it out and warm your heart with some fuzzies.