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The House of Small Cubes More at IMDbPro »Tsumiki no ie (original title)

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68 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful movie about life and loneliness.

Author: newsgrabber from Poland
17 March 2010

I don't know why at least two people in other comments write about „flood caused (probably) by global warming".

To me, the flood is purely metaphorical. It's the time that is cruel and forces us to move on, to the next stage of our lives even if we don't want to, because we feel happy where we are, even if we maybe would like to stay there a little bit longer. But we cannot. The rising water forces us to go on. There's no exception.

The old man from the movie travels back in time to watch again the memories of his life but also, as we all know, he becomes aware all those moments are absolutely gone. It's not possible to live underwater – we can only submerge for a moment to have a look at what is there that is all we can do.

This is a movie about life, about being old and lonely, NOT about the global warming nonsense.

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34 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

The loveliest animation I have ever seen

Author: Mary Jay from Georgia
25 February 2009

Until this day I've never wanted to post a comment even on my favorite movies, but I could not help saying a word about this loveliest, brilliant little animation. When I watched it for the first time I had a feeling of warmth, serenity and happiness. I was happy that human beings can still create such beautiful things in this world. I am amazed at how the director managed to put so many feelings and thoughts in this tiny piece of animation and I want to thank Mr. Kunio Katô for doing that. My congratulations Mr. Katô, you've added a beautiful piece to the art of animation :) And at last but not least I want to mention the music of the movie, it PERFECTLY fits every inch of the film and creates a harmonious unity of sound and image. I hope you will enjoy watching La Maison en petits cubes as much as I did :)

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Sunken treasure

Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
11 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As much an example of the beauty of ever-less-present hand-drawn animation as well as an ode to the slow passage of time, this short film from Japan is an extended metaphor for how things slowly get washed away over time. An old man surviving in his one-room house above the tide drops his pipe into the deep waters that have sunk the foundation of his home up to several stories high. Finding no other pipe suitable as his trusty old one, the man rents some scuba gear and dives down to retrieve it, only to be hit by a flashback of his dead wife. Delving into further rooms, he is hit by memories of the past, all the way back to the foundation of the house itself.

The tone is perfect and firm in this animation, both in the drawing style and the music. The film breathes nostalgia and loss, which can also say something about its old school hand-drawn animation and even to the sepia tones of silent film. It's a love story in reverse, too, as the man goes from a place of isolation and loneliness to a full life filled with love and care before your eyes.


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36 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

Very good

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
16 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like last year, I went to a special showing of the Oscar-nominated animated short films. However, unlike last year, in addition to the nominees, several "commended films" were also shown. In this review I'll make my predictions, though if it's anything like last year's choices, I'll probably once again pick the wrong shorts as my favorite for the award.

The film features an old man living alone in a town that has become submerged. His answer to the slowly rising water is to keep building on to his original home--like placing cubes on top of cubes to keep out the water. When he loses his favorite pipe, he dons scuba gear to retrieve it. As he descends and sees the earlier levels of his home (now submerged) he relives in his mind his life and loves. It's all very sweet and sentimental.

I saw this film with a friend and he liked how the scuba diving was a great plot device. He loved the metaphorical aspects of the film. As for me, I wondered if perhaps there was actually a secondary reason for the submerged homes--to draw attention to global warming. He didn't see it and perhaps I am just reading this into the film, though I still suspect the film is trying to preach to the audience about this supposed threat.

The story was slow but very sweet--accentuated by a nice hand-drawn look and the gauze filter used to enhance the print along with evocative music. Oddly, while the film maker is apparently Japanese, the title is French and the art work doesn't really look Asian-inspired at all.

Of the five films nominated, this is probably my third favorite. It was extremely creative and unique, but I still think the award will either be taken by PRESTO or my favorite, THIS WAY UP.

UPDATE: LA MAISON EN PETITS CUBES was the winner this year. Not surprisingly, I got this one wrong but at least saw the film as a strong contender.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very good and original

Author: 851222 from Lithuania
11 January 2015

Gretings from Lithuania.

"Tsumiki no ie" (2008) is a very good short animated movie. The settings, plot are nothing short of amazing. This is a very sad and beautiful story about life, beautiful moments in our life which live only in our memories when time comes to the end. The idea behind this little picture is amazing. No wonder it won Oscar for the best short animated movie.

Overall, this is wonderful little gem that should be watched and appreciated by people who already lived and have some experience in their lives.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Nostalgia for Love

Author: Daan Swakman from Netherlands
9 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Today I watched a wonderful little animation, upon which I accidentally stumbled. La Maison en Petit Cubes managed to make a dent in the otherwise so rigid structure of my daily pattern.

The theme here is about keeping a grip on your own life adventure; in this case in a very physical way through the stacking of houses over time. The setting is one where (through climate change probably) the world's water level is continuously increasing. As a result of this, people are forced to build on top of their own houses to 'keep their head above the water'. The beautiful thing depicted here is that one's house tells their life story. The old man, while moving his possessions on floor higher for the umpteenth time, dives down into his own memory. As he floats through the old spaces, their stories start to unfold before his eyes. He sees the development in reverse order, starting with grandchildren and ending with the relationship with the love of his life.

On a less joyful note: I couldn't help but seeing similarities with the theme in the Pixar animation 'Up' - which makes me doubt the originality of the latter.

Short as this story may be, it gave me a wonderful insight into the nostalgia that spaces of a home can give, and how brilliant it would be if we would live in a new space every so often, thereby preserving the previous one as a ready-made personal history book.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Melancholic animation at its best

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
4 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really enjoyed this animated 12-minute short film. And so did the Academy as they gave it the Oscar over Pixar's possibly most acclaimed short-film "Presto" and a couple others. The difference may be that, while it was possibly not as witty and fast-moving as Pixar's, it had more heart than on organ bank. Its premise is as odd as it's interesting as we see an old man forced to build cubes up his house (that almost looks like a castle at this point) to counter the constantly rising tide. After he does so, he dives down the house and reaches cubes in which he lived before. This is where he is reminded of significant moments of his past, such as his wife or his childhood. The rising-tide idea to make the old man reminisce deep down in the water is nothing short of brilliant and the memory sequences are quite touching and effective especially with the sudden shift back to present and the man being alone in his diving-suit. A truly harmonic score perfectly fits the tone of the movie.

Also the people behind this short film are quite interesting. Voice actress Masami Nagasawa is only in her mid-20s, but has already been in over 50 movies and Kunio Kato who wrote and directed this little gem gave one of the most entertaining speeches in recent Oscar history. Domo arigato Mr. Kato! It's a shame he hasn't directed another film in the 5 years since then. I'd be thrilled to see a feature film of his, one where the animation is equally vintage and timeless as in this one. I recommend it a lot and I'm sure I'll appreciate it even more when I approach the main character's age.

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Life and Reflection

Author: Ian from United States
4 August 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Flash Review)

Using the metaphor of building a house taller as water around it rises, this neat little short is a touching tale of how one keeps working through life while reflecting and holding onto choice memories….in my opinion. Very original animation styles and appropriate music as there is no dialog. Well worth the 12 minutes.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Of memory and loss

Author: Robert Reynolds ( from Tucson AZ
21 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This short deservedly won the Academy Award for Animated Short. There will be spoilers ahead:

The short takes place in a world where the water level is rising and people have to periodically build new stories onto existing structures. The focus is on one old man building his new story. During the transition from one story to the next, he drops his pipe in the water.

The old man ultimately decides to go after the pipe rather than replace it. So he dons diving gear to begin the journey through his home to retrieve the pipe. As he descends through the structure, his mind "floods", so to speak, with memories of the past, particularly those concerning his wife.

His memories take him back to before the flooding, even back to his childhood. This short is all about memory, life and loss, all very deftly and poignantly handled. The old man retrieves more than the pipe by the time he returns to the top and his current life.

This marvelous short is available for viewing online and is well worth seeking out. Most highly recommended.

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