A Year in Shorts Day 190: "The Bigger Picture"
There are a lot of things an animator can do to make their short stand out and get themselves an Oscar nomination. But probably the most reliable (and certainly most interesting to watch) is to adopt an interesting style and a unique technique. Such is the case with today’s short, Daisy Jacobs’ The Bigger Picture. This is a short which truly has to be seen to be believed.
Released in 2014 and originally made as a student project, The Bigger Picture has to be one of the more ambitious shorts we've covered so far. First of all, it's made with a combination of hand drawn and stop motion animation, which is always pretty impressive. But even more remarkable than the style of the short is its scale. You see, rather than placing her animated characters over a pre-drawn background (as is tradition), Jacobs drew them onto the background itself. And in this case, the background wasn't a drawing, but an honest-to-god life size room! It seems that the title was a bit literal in this case.
I can not possibly imagine the amount of work and technical skill it must have take to bring this short to life, but the end result is absolutely stunning. Between Jacobs' unique artistic style and the tremendous prowess by stop motion animator Chris Wilder, The Bigger Picture is certainly unlike any other short I've ever seen. And what's truly remarkable to me is how beautiful and expressive the animation manages to be in spite of all that. Jacobs uses the size of her canvas to her advantage, rather than letting it be a detriment.
But what could have just been an admittedly impressive technical exercise is elevated to the status of truly great cinema thanks to the story, written by Jacobs and her co-writer, Jennifer Majka. While it's not the most complex film, telling the story of two brothers taking care of their ailing mother, it's nevertheless an effective one. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a simple story told well, and when the technique used to bring it to life is so complicated, a simple story is honestly the better way to go.
The Bigger Picture is, unfortunately, another one of the more obscure shorts we've covered. Jacobs lost the Oscar that year to Patrick Obsorne's Feast which, you know, is a cute movie, but certainly isn't one the same level as this. Suddenly I can understand why people were so annoyed with that film's win that year. Blame the Disney money, I suppose. Nevertheless, The Bigger Picture is a staggering artistic achievement, and one which deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. It isn't ever day that you get to see something truly revolutionary, but for today, at least, you can definitely say that you have.
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