Everyone who went to see Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph this past November was treated to one of the best Disney films in the last decade and it was less than ten minutes long. Paperman, a 2-D animated short presented before Wreck-it Ralph, is nominated for Best Short Film, Animation, and I couldn’t be happier.
Tonally Paperman is pure whimsy. The age old concept of strangers meeting on a train (or train station in this case), exchanging glances and then separating, left to wonder what could have been if they had just introduced themselves to one another. With almost no dialogue, Paperman reminds me of Wall-E, one of my favourite movies of all time. Emotion is conveyed through character expression, and it hits all the right notes.
There is something about the look and feel of this film that screams purity. Watching the featurettes that Disney has released, it is clear that John Kahrs, the director, has a love for Disney’s history of hand drawn animation. Now to be clear, Paperman is computer animated, but done so in a way that it appears like traditional hand-drawn 2-D animation. In an age where we want our cartoons to look as realistic as possible, it is nice to see that there are animators out their who still believe that animation should look like animation, and that you can get just as much expression out of 2 dimensions as you can out of 3.
Now there is no legit version of Paperman available online, but as I mentioned, Disney has released three featurettes on the short and I think they give you a great idea of how the film plays. I would love to see Disney move towards this style of computer animation in future non-Pixar projects.
There are versions of Paperman available on Youtube where someone has filmed it in the theatre; however, I feel like they do not do justice to the beauty of this short so I won’t link to them here. But feel free to search it out if you feel like it.
UPDATE! The full animated short has been officially posted on Youtube by the good folks at Disney.