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Alma
December 22, 2009 4:07 PM   Subscribe

An eerie tribute to countless Twilight Zone episodes, Pixar Animator Rodrigo Blaas has published his animated short film Alma.

Apparently only available for a short time. [via Vizworld, an excellent visualization community]
posted by netbros (72 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
That short rocks.

Pixar really ought to do a film in this vein.
posted by Malor at 4:18 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


That was far too cute to be so deeply disturbing.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 4:19 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH WTF
posted by scrowdid at 4:22 PM on December 22, 2009


What a delight! Thanks.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:26 PM on December 22, 2009


Tonight's excuse for drinking!
posted by smackwich at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2009


AUGH!! THE CLICKING OF THE EYES!! DO NOT WANT!!
posted by Decimask at 4:31 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Very nice, although it was kind of obvious where it was going from the get-go. The animation and quality was very good, however!
posted by hincandenza at 4:31 PM on December 22, 2009


And there's a creepy doll... that always follows you...
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:35 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I demand a sequel, where she leads all the trapped kids to freedom, aided by her new friend Bicycle Boy, and destroys the evil old dollmaker forever. OK?!
posted by Cobalt at 4:37 PM on December 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


That's great. I love the "camera work." It really felt like it was shot with a steadicam and dollies.
posted by brundlefly at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2009


Masterfully done, worthy of every award it has won and will win, but for me, (SPOILER) I fully expected to see another girl appear on the street matching the new doll... or maybe the escape of the mechanical boy on the trike.

A feature-length version of this would require long stretches of watered-down cute-spooky diversions to fill the time and avoid traumatizing an entire generation... mine.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:42 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Very clever. Also, Alma is is Spanish for "soul".
posted by hermitosis at 4:45 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Malor: Pixar really ought to do a film in this vein.

I agree, today's children aren't nearly traumatized enough.
posted by Kattullus at 4:49 PM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I fully expected to see another girl appear on the street matching the new doll...

Yeah, me too, but then I also thought it was supposed to be the kid writing their name on the wall that was the catalyst for their avatar appearing in the store window.
posted by anazgnos at 4:52 PM on December 22, 2009


The Pixar version would end with a frantic 12 minute rescue scene, then a single tear.
posted by davebush at 4:54 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Something raised the hairs on the back of my neck about the scene where you're watching her reflection in the window as she scrawls her name on the wall opposite, and it took me a moment to realize what it was: you're not there. You can't do that trick with a real camera obviously -- you're looking through your invisible self.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:11 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


nice...thanks!

"I fully expected to see another girl appear on the street matching the new doll..." = sequel
posted by HuronBob at 5:22 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have been to the uncanny valley and it was NOT where I was planning my holiday vacation!!

That said, the animation was super cool, but it did nothing for my total distrust of those dolls.
posted by grapesaresour at 5:24 PM on December 22, 2009


Naturally I was immediately saying to the screen: "It's a trap for children! The dolls are all the souls of children who stopped at the magical store! It's made out of people! It's a cookbook!"

But this is just how I react to any Twilight Zone episode, and I enjoy them just as well. I agree that this might make a good full-length film.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:31 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus. Merry Christmas kids.
posted by nola at 5:37 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


That was disquieting. The animation was really well done though.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:47 PM on December 22, 2009


SPOILER***


When I first saw the shop window, I thought, "That looks like a mouth, the way the frame is constructed.. and those look like fangs... And are those eyes?"

I really did want to be proven wrong.
posted by CancerMan at 5:50 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I agree that this might make a good full-length film.

Absolutely not. It works as a short. Turning it into a film will necessarily dilute it.
posted by DU at 6:10 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


As well as a great story, I repeat what brundlefly said- the camera work is superb.
posted by niccolo at 6:11 PM on December 22, 2009


The story itself is very old hat, but the execution is fantastic.

So no, don't make a feature-length Alma, but definitely fund this guy to do a feature-length film of some kind.
posted by straight at 6:14 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


That was awesome. I almost yelled at the screen "NO DON'T TOUCH IT YOU FOOL!" Very well done.
posted by lilac girl at 6:16 PM on December 22, 2009


When I first saw the shop window, I thought, "That looks like a mouth, the way the frame is constructed.. and those look like fangs... And are those eyes?"

and the grin on the doll between the door and the window...
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:17 PM on December 22, 2009


Turning it into a film will necessarily dilute it.

Seconded, with one possible exception:
Do a feature-length version but still with no talking.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:23 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do a feature-length version but still with no talking.

I wish they had done this with WALL-E.
posted by stavrogin at 6:27 PM on December 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Hells yes. I recently was talking to a friend of mine about, well, Avatar, and I said that, very often, words ruin movies.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:30 PM on December 22, 2009


I thought it was great.

I did notice the mouth window as well, and of course, the grinning doll.

And it took me the second pass to realize the deal with the bicycle kid...

But (and this is such a stupid little critique) -- The bicycle kid wasn't ramming into the door once the shot moved to the "doll eyes view", in fact, neither was her possessed body. You'd think both she and the bicycle boy would still be in the room.

It seems obvious in retrospect, but for some reason I didn't expect it.
posted by symbioid at 6:31 PM on December 22, 2009


When I first saw the shop window, I thought, "That looks like a mouth, the way the frame is constructed.. and those look like fangs... And are those eyes?"

Nice - I thought it had a very Barcelona feel. The shop looked like the Casa Batllo and I even thought I spotted a completed Sagrada Familia at the very beginning.
posted by Staggering Jack at 6:32 PM on December 22, 2009


The number of times the Alma doll moves around the room while she's not looking, I think that the filmmaker's ass is covered on that point, symbioid.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:33 PM on December 22, 2009


I'd now like to see an entirely CGI horror movie done by Pixar.
posted by empath at 6:37 PM on December 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


Pretty wonderful. Beautiful textures and attention to detail (knit hat bumping into glass...). Definitely give this guy some space to make a feature length movie.
posted by pkingdesign at 6:38 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd now like to see an entirely CGI horror movie done by Pixar.

Can it still be for kids? Please?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:39 PM on December 22, 2009


I agree that this might make a good full-length film.

It's already too long.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:39 PM on December 22, 2009


That was great. I liked the shop's "mouth" and all the subtle touches. Even though it was clear from the beginning what was going to happen, I appreciated the subtlety. The shop might have a mouth and eyes, or it might not. The eyes of the doll on the shelf might be blank and malevolent, or just old.

It wasn't OMG EVIL CHUCKY, it was just...off.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:39 PM on December 22, 2009


Staggering Man and I had the same thought: Barcelona! Can't think of the house's name, but someone else will, certainly.

Nice short, too. Really exquisite animation.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2009


The shop window was very Gaudi inspired.
posted by medium format at 7:37 PM on December 22, 2009


Do a feature-length version but still with no talking.

I mentioned this before, but the voice-over internal dialogue in the cafe scene in Duel was the weakest part of that movie. It would have made an already great film transcendent to only have the actor's countenance express the thoughts we cheesily heard, and the only sound at that point being muffled conversation and the clinking of cups and cutlery.

This was a nice little film, though the plot was visible from space. But it would be great Halloween fodder for the young 'uns.
posted by maxwelton at 8:07 PM on December 22, 2009


I immediately thought the store front looked like a monster mouth, which would consume her. They did that on purpose, right?
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:40 PM on December 22, 2009


I saw this at Siggraph in August and it was by far my favourite of the animation festival. I've been waiting for it to appear online so my friends can understand what I've been going on about.

The best bit is when you realise exactly whats going on with the boy on the bike.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 9:53 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, I feel like an idiot... am I missing something about the boy on the bike?

The animation towards the end when she is looking out from inside the doll is unbelievable.
posted by Corduroy at 10:04 PM on December 22, 2009


This little gem is perfect. Love it.
posted by pjern at 10:15 PM on December 22, 2009


Wait, I feel like an idiot... am I missing something about the boy on the bike?

He is trying to escape.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:20 PM on December 22, 2009


The question of course for those of us who care about such things is what interesting thing to do next? The reason I posit this is because soul capture-and-eating (a subsequent notion one could not unreasonably intuit or presume) is all well and good except for such unshakable belief in something other than pointlessness.

Which is not to say that there are souls or that there are not but that I love a good challenge. And what better challenge is there than non-existence?
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:25 PM on December 22, 2009


I'd now like to see an entirely CGI horror movie done by Pixar.

The evil scheme in Monsters Inc (kidnap children and keep them in a state of perpetual terror so you can feed off their fear) is pretty damned horrific, but that doesn't really make it a horror film.
posted by straight at 10:31 PM on December 22, 2009


He is trying to escape.

Ah, thank you. Glad I wasn't totally missing the point.
posted by Corduroy at 10:38 PM on December 22, 2009



He is trying to escape.

Ah, thank you. Glad I wasn't totally missing the point.


The sequence is kind of cool, because after she enters, the door ever so slowly starts to close, but doesn't actually do so until the bicycle boy makes his break for it, slamming just before he hits it. It's like it waits for the distraction he creates to fully spring the trap.
posted by anazgnos at 10:48 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


That was excellent.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:09 PM on December 22, 2009


I loved it.

I like Pixar movies, but have always thought that their non-verbal storytelling is without equal. The shorts in front of their longer films tend to be sublime and, at least in the case of Monsters Inc., actually overshadow the main attraction. It requires real talent to tell a story in a compelling and intelligent way without ever resorting to dialogue or worse yet, monologue. Hayao Miyazaki does this quite a bit in his films as well.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:29 AM on December 23, 2009


I had to watch the film again to see if one of the peeling posters on the walls at the beginning was a missing-persons for Bicycle Boy. As far as I could tell, however, none were.
posted by hattifattener at 1:28 AM on December 23, 2009


anazgnos: Yeah, me too, but then I also thought it was supposed to be the kid writing their name on the wall that was the catalyst for their avatar appearing in the store window.

I don't know if writing your name causes the doll to appear, but there's a correlation. I took all the names on the wall to be those of the kids who've been dollified. Also, it's clever that all the names are written with ice and that they're frozen in doll form.
posted by Kattullus at 1:45 AM on December 23, 2009


I love Pixar's shorts, even though I'm only ever lukwarm at best toward their full-length movies. Presto was near-perfect for me, and I'd go to the theater for a show with 6 or 8 shorts like that (or like this one) - not for one of their features.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:59 AM on December 23, 2009


The Pixar version would end with a frantic 12 minute rescue scene, then a single tear.

Also I would cry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2009


The creepiest thing for me is that there is no evil old dollmaker... the shop itself is alive and malevolent, like an urban Venus flytrap.
posted by steef at 6:21 AM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


The little touches are creepy, i.e. the smiling doll, the boy doll trying to escape, the sound of him banging into the door, the clicking eyes and the realization that the shop is selective and playfully malicious.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on December 23, 2009


Everything I was gonna say has been said, just another note of : wow this was good.
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2009


nthing Staggering Jack and medium format, the architecture reminded me of Gaudi.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:32 AM on December 23, 2009


Nice work.
I personally have no taste for the horror genre except for shorts, like Miike's Box, Twilight Zone episodes, etc. This fits nicely.

I wonder if this will at all appease the Pixar is a Boys Club and it really disturbs me crowd.
posted by juiceCake at 9:05 AM on December 23, 2009


man that is a beautifully animated film. wow.

I sometimes I wonder if pro-quality voice recording will ever happen on the kind of budget that allows films like these to be made. as much as I enjoyed this, and other shorts of comparable quality, some stubborn part of my brain always gets a little depressed that apparently adding voice to these things is simply outside the budget and/or time constraints.
posted by shmegegge at 10:33 AM on December 23, 2009


yeah, but the no voice is part of the charm. You're telling a story with PICTURES, use the pictures to tell the story.
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


yeah, but the no voice is part of the charm. You're telling a story with PICTURES, use the pictures to tell the story.

I agree entirely. It's like when you read one of those excellent comics that has no dialog all the way through, but the story is well told regardless. It's a difficult but rewarding way to do it. I swear, I agree with this 100%.

the sad fact for me is that seeing so many voiceless animations has left me with this kneejerk reaction that is entirely outside of any act on the creator's part. I wish I could turn it off, I do.
posted by shmegegge at 10:44 AM on December 23, 2009


Brilliant film, thanks for posting.
I hate stories though where people end up trapped for eternity without being able to move. They just make me completely shudder, like a vicarious claustrophobia or Tapephobia, only For All Time.
Anyone with me on this?
posted by greytape at 11:05 AM on December 23, 2009


I wonder if this will at all appease the Pixar is a Boys Club and it really disturbs me crowd.

Why should it? It isn't a Pixar production. Also, the type of complex, female protagonist that people are hoping to see from Pixar isn't Alma. Even though this short was great, let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:09 AM on December 23, 2009


Alma had some neat design on her, very distinctive without being showy or glaringly exaggerated.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on December 23, 2009


adding voice to these things is simply outside the budget and/or time constraints.

Also, note that having the animation silent avoids localisation work entirely. Animation movies tend to get dubbed/subbed for every non-English speaking country they are released in. No voices = no extra cost for localisation work and timelines aren't lengthened either. Makes it a bit more international and allows for things like this to be easily shared across the world through the internet.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:17 AM on December 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why should it? It isn't a Pixar production. Also, the type of complex, female protagonist that people are hoping to see from Pixar isn't Alma. Even though this short was great, let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

It shouldn't. No it's not a Pixar production, just a related artist. And I agree, it doesn't address the bullshit levelled against storytelling by the sociology crowd. It was a joke. Let's not pretend anyone is getting ahead of themselves here.
posted by juiceCake at 2:22 PM on December 23, 2009


Not exactly the same, but it kind of reminded me of Coraline.
posted by Doohickie at 4:08 PM on December 23, 2009


o_O

O_o
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:23 AM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just got back from traveling and could finally watch this. Great short.

I read it as a caution against materialism... the way people can be trapped and drained of imagination by plastic trinkets. Alma is captivated by a reflection of herself, the way marketing plays on narcissism and insecurity. She's drawn into the maw of the shop (consumerism) by her own fascination. When she finally reaches what she desires, she finds that she is trapped by it, like so many before her.

I wonder why the shop only opened up after she gave up? it's only after she hits the door with a snowball in a kind of petulant way that the door swings open. Does this mean that if she'd been "better" (i.e., hadn't reacted to a locked door with frustration and violence) she would have avoided her fate?

Anyway, I thought this was great. Really enjoyed the music, especially.
posted by gribbly at 3:23 PM on January 4, 2010


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