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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Check out these trotters!

Author: ( from Edmonton, Alberta
14 March 2000

When the Day Breaks is a jawdroppingly beautiful animated short made through the National Film Board of Canada. It's about a pig who witnesses the death of Mr. Chicken at the grocery. This sudden brush with a stranger causes our heroine to consider the interconnectedness of urban lives. Extremely charming, this is an Oscar-nominated animation that also won the Palme d'Or at Cannes-- deservedly so. It's hard to see these films theatrically, but projected onto a screen it is gorgeous. For the rest of you, you might have to go to

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Potato peels and lemons

Author: acmelita ( from United States
9 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The idea that each life touches another, with positive and negative consequences, is beautiful demonstrated in "When the Day Breaks," with a disarming use of anthropomorphism. (The wolves on the street are literally wolves, for instance.)

Ruby the Pig, the unlucky Rooster neighbor and all the other characters were created with a unique process where in the directors filmed the basic action in Hi-8 using themselves and friends as actors. They then transferred the footage to VHS, selected and printed the desired frames using a video printer. After adjusting the timing to their liking, they photocopied the video prints onto paper, and then drew with pencils and painted with oil sticks on that paper. Ears, snouts, beaks were added, while much unwanted background detail was obliterated. The final step was filming the the finished frames onto 35mm. It provides one of the more unusual but accessible looks in animation.

The I hope your life can be touched by this film. It is available via for five dollars on a DVD that also includes the affecting animated documentary "When Life Departs" and the globe-trotting "Radio Umanak".

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Starts charmingly enough and suddenly turns much more serious

Author: Robert Reynolds ( from Tucson AZ
19 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mild spoilers This cartoon begins, engagingly enough, at breakfast. Using animals instead of people as characters reminds viewers of those cute, lovable cartoons of yesteryear.


Life is what happens while you're making plans and sometimes life throws a curve or two-and sometimes, life throws the baseball bat at your head. Such is the case here, in a short which starts with a morning straight out of Norman Rockwell that veers into Bosch all too quickly for the primary characters. Memorable, with images that will stick around for quite a while. I'll never see eggs, bacon or produce quite the same way again.

Nominated for an Academy Award and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Recommended.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

representative animals

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
25 December 2016

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis are a Canadian animation team. Early in their careers they contributed animation to a documentary about Noam Chomsky. In 1999 they released a cartoon short that received an Academy Award nomination: "When the Day Breaks". This short uses animals as an allegory for people's relationships with each other. I liked what they did with it. The short reminds us that not every animated production has to be an extravagant feature with the voices of celebrities.

I read that to create the scenes for "When the Day Breaks", Tilby and Forbis shot scenes with a Hi-8 camera, printed stills from the footage, and then drew on the stills. The short took approximately four years to complete. In the end, it had a good result. I'd like to see more of their work.

The short is available on the National Film Board of Canada's website.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A pretty mediocre fable

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
13 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"When the Day Breaks" is a 9.5-minute animated short film by Forbis and Tilby, which won awards all over the planet and also managed to score an Academy Award nomination, where it lost, however. And I am perfectly fine with that. I really cannot see any greatness here. The story, animation and characters are fairly forgettable. The music is somewhat nice to listen to, but only on 2 or 3 occasions as well. The Oscar nomination may have been a bit much already. I guess both filmmakers profited from having a history with the Academy as this is not their only Academy Award nomination here. But yeah, back to the film we have here. The style is not too easy to find access to I guess and apparently, this takes place in a world full of animals replacing humans. They are not talking though like in "Zootopia" for example. Actually, it is fairly difficult to understand their interactions as it is basically nothing about them except the way they look at each other. Really mediocre short film. I do not recommend it.

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7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A Long Ten Minutes

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
8 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This turned into a long 10 minutes. At first, like a lot of animated films in the past dozen years, the unique artwork will grab your attention. But once the style sets in, and you get used to it, it's nice to have a good story to go with it. Here, the story will a little too slow and not as involving as it should have been. There is emotion attached to it, which is good, but I just couldn't get into it.

We see a pig making breakfast in his apartment. Somewhere else in the city, a rooster is doing the same. Both wind up at a grocery getting an item they need. They literally run into each other,and events lead to one of them being hit by a car, and the other one feeling guilty over it, blaming him (her) self.

Sound kind of blah? It is.

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9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:


Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
5 November 2005

This animated short by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis seems mostly an exploration of how connected people are in a city and how they affect each other. A rooster and a pig have breakfast in separate apartments, but both of them find themselves lacking in something they need to complete the breakfast, so they both go out to a grocery store. Once there they run into each other, causing the rooster to drop his lemons, one of which goes down a drain. As the pig walks into the store regretfully, the rooster turns huffily away and gets hit by a car, an event the pig sees and which causes her to feel a lot of regret.

The animation uses minimal backgrounds, causing the characters to kind of float around in space, which is interesting because as the animation is about how connected they are, nobody seems really connected to anything. It goes through electric cords and pipes, streets and electrical signals to show many characters all experiencing the same day, often in the same way, while also showing how they seem to affect each other. So while nobody seems to have any relationship with each other, they are all affected by the existence of each other.

I guess such an existential situation is interesting to think about, but it's not really that interesting to look at and gets pretty slow. Also, I can't really seem to figure out why they are animal, though it does provide an opportunity for quite a few sight-gags. It's well done and very well thought-out, but I'm not quite sure I like it that much.


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4 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Lovely to look at but otherwise not especially noteworthy

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
13 February 2008

WHEN THE DAY BREAKS was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2000. It lost to the amazing THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA--a truly great film due its brilliant graphics.

WHEN THE DAY BREAKS looked like a beautiful cartoon in search of a plot. It is very lovely to look at and at times is very stunning visually, but it also seems as if all the energy went into the graphics and little went into the plot--like it was, at best, of secondary importance. After you get over the impact of the great graphics and that all the animals are anthropomorphized (i.e., look and act like people), then what occurs seems dull and the early 30s style of music does nothing to perk it up in the least. It's worth a look--especially for artists, but just expect to be particularly engaged.

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