I found this video essay and thought it to be quite intriguing.
I’ve always said and understood that to be amazing at something one must dedicate themselves to it. All the old masters of every discipline practiced, researched and honed their skills and knowledge for many years to be true proficient’s at their craft. Though in the present time period we see less and less people applying themselves to a discipline to that level of dedication. I hadn’t understood why before watching this and it now makes perfect sense. The saying ‘writing is rewriting’ is true after all.
This is a beautiful little short that I’ve been watching for years.
The non verbal nature of the short really complements the story’s reflective and reminiscent nature. The musical accompaniment by Yann Tierson really enhances the melancholic feeling of the short and makes the piece what it is. The crude visuals are well planned and staged with good layout that helps tell the story. I particularly enjoy the shot of the old man as a child with the wooden horse toy that smoothly transitions into the man’s grandson and bringing the story full circle and into present time again. It is a very simple piece but powerful in my opinion because of the strong execution of the story.
Here’s a great interview with Pixar Story artist, Matt Luhn. I’ve met this guy in person and he is amazing at teaching people. I walked away from his lecture so inspired that wanted to ditch animation and be a story artist. He mentions some of the content of his lecture in this interview. It’s 3 pages long but well worth the read.
Valerie’s story is basically an ironic good vs evil story. She has been a serial killer for a while now. She uses her skills in illusion and sleight of hand to make her crimes seem like accidents. She is still working as an assistant while she saves up and develops her own show. She uses killing people as an outlet for her own anger from feeling stifled and put down by her boss. The animation begins with shots of new magic show posters in the street. There are also posters for missing people alongside them. Scene cuts to the magic show. As Valerie is the assistant, she picks people from the audience who make silly remarks during the show, or try hitting on her etc. and brings them onto the stage. She uses very subtle means of killing them like poison for example.
This has been happening for a while and the police have noticed that the people go missing or end up dead after attending the magic show. Morgan the magician is the antagonist. He insults and puts down Valerie both on and off stage, belittling her. The police infiltrate the audience of the show one night. Valerie does her usual thing by subtley killing a member of the audience. She loses her cool backstage after a particularly horrible interaction and resolves on this being her last night of performance and plans on killing Morgan in the finale by putting a real bullet in the gun for the bullet catch trick and shooting him outright.
The police rush in and it is staged so that Valerie thinks she has been found out about her earlier killing but at the last second when police draw level with her, they rush past and tell Morgan to put down his gun. He attempts to be a showman for his audience and show the police that it isn’t loaded and shoots into the audience, killing someone in the process. They arrest the magician for murder. News headlines: serial killer caught. Valerie is mentally free from her tormentor.