I’m doing something a little different today: a review of a short. A two-and-a-half minute short, to be more specific. Silent (2014) was made by Moonbot Studios, which was responsible for the beautiful and touching Oscar winning 2011 animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. That earlier short showed a clear love of film and storytelling through gorgeous animation and references to Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). It was also happy and sad in all the right ways. It’s not the best short ever, but if you can, look it up and you’ll have a good 15-minute escape. I wish I could say the same for Silent.
Before anybody jumps on me, I’m not saying Silent is horrible. It’s far from that. The wonderful whimsy, the appealing animation style, and the passion for cinema and its history found in Mr. Morris Lessmore is all on display here.
Silent is the tale of two struggling street performers (a guy and a little girl) and their dream of success with their Picture & Sound show. After their act fails to impress, they discover an abandoned movie theater with a magical invention that may be the answer to their performing woes.
There is a little more to the picture than that, but this is a short, so why give everything away? That’s the gist of it, though. It’s simple and straightforward. What’s bad is Silent, being so short, isn’t given enough time to develop and leave much of a lasting impact. It’s not even a matter of, “I was just beginning to get into it, and then it was over.” It was more like, “I was just beginning to begin to get into it, and then it was over.” It’s practically blink and you miss it. A longer film, maybe ten minutes or so, that allowed more time to get into the short’s concept and to endear the audience to the characters would have been better.
All that having been said. It would be impossible for me to say I hate this. There’s a lot to admire about it. The references to silent comics Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton are great to see, and it’s clear the filmmakers want to share the joy they get from motion pictures with everyone else. And how can you complain about a goal like that?
You can check out the whole short below.