This little Australian claymation production was an unlikely winner for best animated short at the Oscar ceremony for 2003, beating a pixar production and other anime-bigwigs. Which is ironic, because Adam Elliot's twenty minute short is about an underdog. Elliot has appealed to a popular Australian myth, that of the Aussie battler, and the underdog (who we Australians inevitably root for), as a way to make an Australian audience sympathise with a migrant from poland, and recognise a similarity between themselves an him. What makes this short clever is that it uses the form of a children's story, a fairy tale, to communicate a moving story of hardships and not seem to bash the audience over the head with them. It has the appeal of the wonderful Aussie film The Castle, where great profundity can be found through a story told very simply, about simple people, whose outlook on life is so admirable. The story Harvie Crumpet tells, and the character of Harvey, are, of course, very different. Harvie suffers so much, and so many terrible things happen to him, that you have to wonder what is the redeeming thing about this story that makes it worth watching (leaving to the side its marvellous presentation in the guise of a children's fairy tale, or claymation television program perhaps, which creates, as mentioned, a juxtaposition with its content which is effective in lending it a genuine feel, making the audience want to be touched by Harvie). And, of course, the thing that makes Harvie remarkable is that he survives. He doubts himself, like all of us, and at times wants to give up the game, but at the end of the day, he seizes what precious moments he has.
Geoffery Rush as narrator rivals Anthony Hopkins for his fairy tale narration in The Grinch. Reveals what a wonderful, Australian storytelling voice he has. He should do more work in this vein, not to undermine his appearances onscreen, which are also marvellous (particularly Shakespeare in Love and Shine, but like Cate Blanchett, and unlike every other actor in the Hollywood past and present, he is just fantastic in every role).
In just twenty three minutes we are told, with the help of Rush, the life story of Harvie Krumpet - and at the end, even though he's only made of clay, we really feel like we know him. And he's a little fella that stays with you.
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