Borrowed Time - A Short Film Review
I first heard about this short from a friend of mine who was at SIGGRAPH this year, where he'd normally send me pictures of Walking Teapots he found, this year's email was a little different. In short, "There was this film, Borrowed Time, it was a work of genius." That's something I never hear from an animator, they usually nitpick on technical details, if that fails, they nitpick on the narrative. After finally seeing this. I can confirm that it is indeed, a masterpiece.
Borrowed Time is an animated short film directed by Pixar alumni Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats. It’s a cartoonesque 3D animation following a similar style character design to those found in Pixar Shorts (La Luna, Lifted).
The film follows a Sheriff in mid western America who’s struggling to deal with loss. Contemplating suicide, we discover the backstory to his appointment as a sheriff. How, who we presume is, his father was eyeing him up as his successor all along. How through an accident, the soon to be sheriff loses his father. It tackles the difficult subject of survivors guilt. It a strange concept to some, but it’s a very real experience for those who do go through it.
Someone very easily can think they are responsible for the loss of someone else, this short uses some very clever examples. We’d look at the situation and realise that it isn’t his fault, but the film very subtly lets us understand why he would feel the guilt he does.
It’s clever filmmaking, playing with emotions like this. Confusion and empathy don't usually go together but this short nails it.
Needless to say, the character design is simply stunning. Figures in this short are distinct, our lead is a thin figured boney character who looks unsuitable for sheriff when he’s young, but perfect for the job when he’s old. Our support character is a butch sheriff, it’s a stereotypical figure who’d you see in any western film. The short uses these characters to tell it’s strong narrative
The colour work on this short is a work of art. Colour is used to play with our emotion as an audience. That, however, is for a different time. For an analysis which I’ll have up during my winter break.
Technically, this film soars above it’s peers in hair particles, clothing and dirt particles. The technology and rendering in this film is better than even most Pixar films.
Overall, this short is a masterpiece. It’s moving in both it’s stunning animation and heart wrenching narrative. This is easily my favourite short this year, possibly the best I’ve ever seen.