An odd little animated short that's worth seeing at least once
In all honesty, I didn't really like this short film. This isn't necessarily saying that there's anything wrong with it, but it just isn't my sort of style, and I find myself completely indifferent to it. Alison Snowden's 'Second Class Mail' was her debut directorial effort, and it was nominated in the Best Short Film, Animated category at the 1986 Academy Awards. It didn't win, but Snowden (along with her husband, David Fine) did eventually win an Oscar for their 1993 short, 'Bob's Birthday.' In this film, a lonely woman aims to cure her sense of loneliness by mail-ordering an inflatable husband, only to find its presence less effective than she had initially anticipated.
I'm tempted to say that the animation in 'Second Class Mail' is crudely done, but that would be misleading. The style omitting any large amounts of detail and drawing only the characters or objects that are imperative to the plot is quite obviously a deliberate aesthetic decision, and in no way reflects the "laziness" of the animator, though economics may have played a key role. A good example of this style is the final scene, where we zoom out from the protagonist's house and watch it from a distance. Though other animated films might have drawn a broad landscape of hills and trees, Snowden shows us only the basic outline of the house, the rubbish bin and a single tree. Many people find this style of animation endearing, its simplicity quite easily communicating everything about the story that is needed, but I've never really been partial to it. It basically just comes down to personal preference.
'Second Class Mail' does not contain any dialogue, but makes up for it with a few carefully-selected sound effects. There are also a few mildly amusing moments of absurdity, the oddest gag involving a yellow bird who cheerfully swings several times on his hanging platform before dying unexpectedly. All in all, whilst I didn't exactly enjoy the short film myself, it's such an oddity that I recommend seeing it at least once. In other words, it's worth four minutes of your time.
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