I enjoy watching animation films as they usually give me new experiences or just a fresh perspective on the world. Paperman (2013), the animated short that accompanied Wreck-It Ralph in theatres and stunned viewers with its unique new fusion of old and new animation styles, is likely familiar to Disney fans. The seven-minute movie, which was directed by John Kahrs, won the Academy Awards for Best Short Film, Animated.
The short film tells the tale of a young man who is alone in mid-century New York City and whose life takes an unexpected turn after he meets a stunning woman by chance while travelling to work. One of the papers lands on her bright red lip leaving a mark on it and in a flick of seconds, she disappears from the scene.
He thinks the girl of his dreams is lost forever, but then he sees her again in a skyscraper window across the street from his workplace, giving him a second opportunity. His effort to get the attention of the woman, however, goes in vain.
The only locations in the short film are the train station, the workplace, and the city street. The man and woman first meet at the beginning of the short and again towards its conclusion, making the train station the most crucial place. Most of the action, however, occurs at the man’s workplace, where he spends the majority of his time making paper planes to win the woman’s love.
The last plane flies a little further than the others but lands in a small alley. All of this paperman’s hopes are buried there. Finally, a quick shot of a city street is shown as the man and woman are gradually brought back together by a paper plane.
When it comes to technical aspects, greater attention is given to the lighting. The morning sun’s light serves as the primary source of most outdoor lighting. The workplace is poorly lit inside, adding to the gloomy atmosphere.
To stress the title and main idea of the short film as well as to show the skill that goes into making a paper plane, there are numerous close-ups taken as the paper aeroplanes are being built. One can notice that the man is the only young man in the workplace and that the others appear to be older suggests that he doesn’t belong here and should be somewhere else. With no dialogues, one can feel what the characters are going through.
Another thing is that, despite being in black and white, the kiss in the shots are red, which is unusual. The fact that this is the sole colour displayed in the clip indicates how significant this kiss is. The man’s actions are driven by his desire for the love. He values the kiss more than his job, so he holds off on turning it into a paper plane until the very last.
The film’s creation itself deserves special appreciation as it has showcased how beautifully both technologies and analogue formats can be incorporated together.
The story is indeed unrealistic. However, hope is not. Things will come to you if you work hard enough to achieve them. That is what I believe the film underlines here.