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Lost Thing, The

Entry updated 27 April 2020. Tagged: Film.

Australian short animated film (2010). Passion Pictures. Based on the short Graphic Novel by Shaun Tan. Directed by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan. Written by Shaun Tan. Narrated by Tim Minchin. 16 minutes. Colour.

Whilst collecting bottle-tops on his local beach, young adult Shaun finds a strange creature ignored by everyone else. It is the size of a small house, with tentacles and two mantis-like arms, clad in a red metal shell; Shaun considers it a lost thing. It proves friendly, so he takes it home. But his parents do not like it, so when a television ad from The Federal Department of Odds & Ends announces it has pigeonholes available to store "objects of unknown origin", he takes it there. However, the Department's janitor confides "this is a place for forgetting" and directs him to an out of the way destination: here behind a door lies a sunlit Utopia, full of odd, unique, brightly coloured creatures: the thing enters and the door closes behind it. Years later Shaun muses that, though he sometimes sees other lost things, they are becoming less frequent; or perhaps he is too busy to notice them anymore.

This is in part a Satire on conformity (see Clichés); a beach sign refers to homogenous equations (see Mathematics). The lost things in Utopia seem made rather than natural, and recall misremembered childhood toys that have become sentient. Set in a drab, mildly Dystopian City, the story might reflect youth's unhappiness at acquiring adulthood's burdens and the loss of childhood's marvels.

This is a memorable, impressive animation: stylistically intriguing and visually rich. It was the winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film of 2010 and a finalist for the 2011 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. [SP]


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