For your viewing pleasure, I present to you a selection of animated shorts. Let thoughts be inspired, let the feels be felted, bathe in the beauty of spareness, of clutter, of unfettered creativity. Behold and enjoy!
You may want to bookmark this one and come back to it rather than trying to watch them all at once.
The Man Who Had to Sing - 1971
Written by Nedeljko Dragic
Directed by Milan Blazekovic
This Yugoslavian cartoon managed to sneak out from behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, which certainly goes a long way toward explaining its perspective. That, however, should not be seen as an excuse for us to overlook how it's applicable to life in our society today. I have described this cartoon and Chuck Jones' "One Froggy Evening" (sadly unavailable due to Warner Brothers' approach to digital rights management) as the 2 most important things that young people need to understand about our world before leaving school, and I was only kind of kidding.
Why Man Creates - 1968
Written by Saul Bass & Mayo Simon
Directed by Saul Bass
This film won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1968. It's from Saul Bass who created some of the most iconic posters and title sequences for film in the mid-20th century. He was also largely responsible for designing the shower sequence in Hitchcock's "Psycho." Why Man Creates reflects his mastery both as a creator, and as one who has spent a lot of time examining the very act of creation.
Paperman - 2012
Written by Clio Chang & Kendelle Hoyer
Directed by John Kahrs
Another Oscar winner. That seems to be the mood I'm in. Paperman really struck a chord with a lot of people, using the digital animation technology that we're used to seeing for 3D animation, but presented in a retro 2D style. It's a sweet, simple boy-meets-girl tale that will make you wish it was really that sweet and simple.
Munro - 1961
Written By Jules Pfeiffer
Directed by Gene Deitch
Munro was Pfeiffer's reaction to his experience serving in the Army. In it, a 4 year old by is drafted and trained as a soldier. His protestations fall upon ears deafened by obedience to bureaucracy. It won an Oscar for Animated Short. Man I love those cartoonists from the 60s.
Balance - 1989
Directed by Christoph Lauenstein & Wolfgang Lauenstein
One of the things that animation does, perhaps better than any other format I can think of, is to present metaphors in motion. Balance had that covered in spades. Despite it's simplicity, it's universality and potency were clearly enough to win it an Oscar. This should forever change the way you hear the phrase "fair and balanced." Consider this added to the list of things that young people should know before leaving school.
Mr. Hublot - 2013
Written by Launrent Witz
Directed by Laurent Witz & Alexandre Espigares
Mr. Hublot is a quirky little fellow who has to turn the lights on and off a specific number of times before leaving his home in a dense urban landscape of crumbling machinery. He clearly likes his life to be "just so." So it comes as a bit of a surprise and a challenge when he decides to share his home with the stray he takes in off the street. Beautiful stuff here, and yes, an Oscar winner.
The Lost Thing - 2010
Written by Shaun Tan
Directed by Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
The Lost Thing is a fairly straight adaptation from Shaun Tan's book of the same name. It tells a fairly straightforward tale of a bot who finds an unusual creature on the beach, then determines to help it find its home. Okay, it serves metaphorical purposes too. Yes, it won an Oscar, but I was already a fan of the book, so there; I'm not just picking Oscar winners for the sake of showing off.
Varmints - 2008
Written by Marc Craste from his Book with Helen Ward
Directed by Marc Craste
Another authorial adaptation of a brilliant book, Marc Craste's Varmints is a heartbreaking work of sheer beauty. It's a powerful parable about industrialization, the loss of hope and nurturing nature; giving back the life that it gives to us. It wasn't even nominated for an Oscar, which seems a real shame. It's amazing.
Well that's about all the time we have today, kids! Stay in drugs and don't do school! We'll have to do this again sometime soon. There are a whole lot more wonderful works of animation out there to share and discover!