Home > mint-lounge > features > Pixar’s new short is full of pain & beauty

Regardless of how introspective the subjects or brooding the characters, films from Pixar Animation Studios are best known for their accessibility to audiences of many ages. This, especially coming from the invariable relaxation of their plots into resolutions— either happy or bittersweet. However, their latest under-six-minute-short called Borrowed Time, is nothing like that.

A local sheriff, old, tired, desolate, hobbles slowly towards the edge of a cliff, now stopping, now going dangerously close to a free fall. Imposing grey clouds loom. Even just the first 40 seconds are enough to have you sit on edge, with numerous questions about the sheriff’s story caroming in your head.

The president of Pixar , Ed Catmull had, through his 2014 book Creativity, Inc., recalled how his studio has since the late 1980s, strived to set new trends in storytelling through computer generated imagery. With Borrowed Time, directors Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats are taking this vision a step forward. The challenge for them was to dispel the notion that animation is as a genre is meant primarily for young audiences only. “We really wanted to make something that was a little bit more adult in the thematic choices and show that animation could be a medium to tell any sort of story," Hamou-Lhadj says in a featurette called ‘Why We Made Borrowed Time,’ released along with the film.

The figures and the scapes are right out of a Western. The harsh wilderness, the lonely rubble-filled expanse, the strong, tough men with guns, atop horses. But the directors turn the usual concerns of these tropes on their head. They choose instead to focus on the emotional journey of a protagonist looking for closure, by revisiting the location where an accident led to (who we assume was) his father’s death. The death is sudden: A special moment in which the son inherits his father’s pocket watch, quickly gives way to one that’s deeply scarring.

Dialogue is minimal through the duration of the short. All the intense anguish, loneliness, guilt, and trauma of memory is shown spectacularly just via the animation, and score by Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla.

Borrowed Time may not have the usual closure that most G-rated Pixar films offer, but its sense of ending is brought in with devastating beauty.

Borrowed Time is available to stream on Vimeo for a short time. Watch it here:

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