This is one of those animated shorts in which the self-reflexivity at first seems tired and hackneyed, but where the sheer beauty of the drawing keeps you enthralled. The theme itself is possibly convoluted or simple, something to do with man's passage through life, the difficulties of existence, the meaning of existence, a theorem of existentialism or something.
I don't really care. I watch cartoons for the animation, and there is something very pleasing about the multiple variations possible on a couple of lines. The fluidity of the piece is remarkable, the adventures of the two stick characters inventive, funny and sad, especially when one is buried in the paper like sand and can't get out.
There is something sadistic in our pleasure, because these characters can't escape, their entrapment is foregrounded, so that when they try to tear up their prison - i.e. the paper they're being drawn on - it actually seems like a heroic, if futile act. It is futile, a)because the animator is all-powerful, godlike, and laughs at such hubris; b)because the paper is only one level of existence, and once that's torn down there's still the actual, immovable frame of the film to contend with; but most importantly, and saddest c)if the animated manages to break down his prison wall, it also means the end of his own existence. Maybe this is what he's trying to provoke.
At any rate, and this is the most hurtling blow, this rebellion is created by the animator himself. It is this complexity that gives the short a density worthy of a Nabokov novel, like Invitation To A Beheading.
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