My second favourite of the Oscar Nominations for Best Animated Short Film is still one of the best things I’ve seen this year. On Saturday, I’ll publish the final Oscar Shorts article and you can watch all four before the ceremony (where the Simpsons short, unreviewed here, will probably win just to spite me).
I’m not married, but the impression I often get is that sometimes you don’t really understand your husband or wife. When it gets particularly bad, it may feel like you are working on entirely different levels. Head Over Heels is a stunning stop-motion short that takes this abstract concept and makes it a visible reality. It’s about an old couple who don’t communicate especially well any more, and the rift between them is represented by the fact that they have opposite gravities. They live in a house with two floors, two kitchens, two worlds. The interaction between them is limited and strained. But this is a hopeful short film, and the conclusion is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in any short. The house they live in is brilliantly realised, showing inventively how two people can live literally on top of each other. The stop-motion is fluid, the set is minutely detailed, and the character animation showcases how to use the face to great effect. But in spite of the technical brilliance, it is the story that impresses.
I’m not married, but the impression I often get is that love means having to go out of your way for the other person, of finding some kind of compromise even when you seem to disagree at a fundamental level. That’s what I love about Head Over Heels. Their method of working with each other is so simple, yet so instantly moving, that it captures some of the beauty of being in love, of its constancy, and of working together even through seemingly impossible situations. And really, you don’t have to be married to be moved by that.