The Lost Thing (Andrew Ruhemann, Shaun Tan, 2010): AUS, UK

Review by William Barton. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2011.

To start this review, I will give you a visual example of what my thoughts on this film were.

Great Artwork, plus

A boring story, plus

A truly boring narration.

The Lost Thing is up this year for an academy award for best animated short film. While the artwork for the film is really great, it has a pretty uninteresting story. I could handle the uninteresting story and just focus on the artwork and I would still think this was a great short film, BUT there was this monotone and downright annoying narration going throughout the film (no, it wasn’t Ben Stein: that would have been AWESOME!).

I watched this film along with 7 other animated short films at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2011. Since The Lost Thing was the only film on this list to get an Oscar nomination, I felt compelled to write a review of it.

The Lost Thing centers around a man who lives with his parents and collects bottle caps (interesting enough, right?). One day, on a hunt for bottle caps, the man runs across a giant steam engine/ octopod. He then goes to the octopod DMV and sits in a dark room. Later, he takes the octopod to a haven where the creature can live peacefully with eagleoids and balloon mammals.

While there wasn’t much time to develop the story further, the film really just seemed to be a vassal to display Shaun Tan’s organic steam-punk artwork. While I do appreciate the artwork for it’s originality and detail, the film itself was pretty uninteresting. I felt that adding a really boring narration throughout the film detracted from the artwork. This film would have been much better if they simply took out the narration and let it be dialogue-less. The visuals in the film were enough to tell the story, no matter how droll the story was. Adding the voice over put the fish in the proverbial shoe.

To this film, I say “less words!” After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So instead of continuing to tell you how I feel about The Lost Thing, I’ll just sum it all up with a picture.


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