By: Paul Gaszak, English Faculty
Disney’s Paperman, the short film that screened before Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph back in November, was just made available online by Disney. Do yourself a favor and watch this amazing little love story; it’s just over six minutes long. (My commentary is below the video.)
(Youtube Link: http://youtu.be/aTLySbGoMX0)
A few points that I love about this film:
- It is a gorgeous meshing of traditional hand-drawn and computer animation. The look stays true to traditional Disney characters, while still managing to fit an adult story.
- There is no dialogue. Our two main characters have not shared a word yet and do not even know the other’s name, so why should verbalization interject? Great decision.
- The musical score is uplifting and heartfelt. It sets the perfect tone for the film.
- The world is black and white, except for the lipstick. The lack of colors paint the workaday world as drab and mundane, but the spark for love is in the symbolically appropriate – if not slightly cliched – red of the lipstick.
- The form with the red lipstick plays a central role throughout, which heightens the significance of it being the only dash of color, and in a way also makes that form our third main character. Like many Disney films, we have a magical character – only this is a very unexpected one.
- There is a nice touch of commentary about misplaced priorities and conformity. In the office, the boss glares at the male protagonist, directs him to get back to work, and all of his coworkers (all of whom look exactly the same) do jump back to work after the disturbance by the protagonist. A roomful of people all have placed importance in what appears to be meaningless work, while only our protagonist has the nerve to run out of the door in search of something more important.
- The ending is perfect. Our main characters approach each other, she sweeps her hand through her hair, and they make eye contact – but nothing more. Had this story been handled poorly, both characters would have jumped onto the platform and into each other’s arms, twirling and kissing. But that would take more suspension of disbelief than sentient paper airplanes. These two people have not even met, really. To have them hugging and kissing would be absurd, if not altogether weird. This story isn’t about the two characters falling in love; we aren’t to that stage with them yet. (Though a few stills during the credits show us that.) This story is about the catalyst for love and the spark of fate that can lead us to it.
- Finally, I am a sucker for a good fairytale romance in which the hands of fate intervene to lead soul mates together. Real love is never so easy and comes with countless complications and confusions that aren’t present in this film. But sometimes art is created to bring to life that which we wish was real.