Kunio Kato’s 12-minute short film La Maison en Petits Cubes (The House of Small Cubes) was released in 2008. The movie took home the Best Animated Short Film Oscar at the 81st Academy Awards. The story revolves around an elderly widower residing in a house that is largely under water. He spends his alone time fishing, eating, and watching television until he notices that his flat is starting to flood.
He buys building materials to start adding a level to his house. He adds cube-like bricks to the house to prevent being submerged. He finishes building his new room and starts putting his meagre collection of goods piece by piece into a little row boat. One day the old man accidentally drops his favourite pipe into the lower levels of his home. He decides to rent scuba diving gear and go looking for his pipe. He remembers memories of the past in each room as he goes down through his submerged house.
Every area he enters brings back memories of his past, from the day he first met his wife through the wedding of his daughter. His journey, which started as him trying to find his pipe, eventually turns into him thinking deeply about life and the people he loves. Without any dialogue, the film and The lyrical soundtrack nicely combine with the film’s melancholy feelings to create an excellent experience.
In the beginning, it may seem that the man’s life is a gloomy one as he lives alone. Though he has no one to share his days with, he continues to live alone on the island. As the story goes on, it becomes obvious that he has lived a full life, full of amazing people and memories. There are numerous metaphors about time, memory, ageing, and loneliness that can be traced within the film. The flood itself serves as one of the movie’s most important messages; the water represents the passing of time and that life has to go on no matter what. It is a beautiful film and it indeed is worth your 12 minutes.