Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The House of Small Cubes (2008)

Sometimes, simplicity is the answer.  Why build a palace when a tool shed is enough?  What good is it to convey your message only to have it get lost in the details?  The House of Small Cubes is a a short that could best be called minimalist.  There’s no dialogue and it focuses on one person, an old man, who has to add on to his house due to rising waters.

The short starts with the Old Man realizing that the water in his world is rising.  The seems to be a recurring event, as his house, as well as all of the surrounding houses, are built up as the water rises.  Each appears to be just one room, but they are all built on much bigger underwater structures, all presumably comprised of similar rooms.

When the Old Man realizes that the water is rising, he gets to work building his new room.  When he drops his favorite pipe down a hole, he has to dive down to get it, which means donning diving equipment.  As he progresses down from one room to the next, he finds things that he’s left in previous rooms.  It might be a wine glass or an old toy.

He finds his pipe quickly, but decides to keep going.  Each old room brings back corresponding memories.  He remembers being with his family.  He remembers courting his wife and raising a child.  No mention is made of what happened to his family.  We’re left to imagine that the wife passed away and that his children moved out.

In terms of style, it looks like the kind of movie they might have shown on PBS or in grade school.  Since there’s no dialogue, there’s no offensive language to worry about.  None of the imagery is offensive, either.  Small children might wonder what’s going on.  It’s never explained why this world flooded.  The only implication is that time, and memory, keep marching on.

I was able to get this on Netflix and, to be honest, I’d like to see more shorts like this.  It’s not the kind of thing a studio might put on DVD outside of a collection and I haven’t seen too many of those on Netflix, as it‘s only 12 minutes.  (There’s no section for short films.)  It was an easy film to watch.  The animation and music are basic and the story was easy to follow.  It’s something you could easily watch with small children, yet be entertained by as an adult.

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