Monday, December 16, 2013

History of the World in Three Minutes Flat (1980)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Short Film, Animated - Michael Mills

PIXAR guru John Lasseter tells a story about the early days of computer animation in which PIXAR introduced a revolutionary new technological advancement.  The crowd was amazed and several people asked questions about the technology before someone asked what software was used to "make the short funny."

Lasseter tells the story to exemplify the idea that despite all of the great advancements in animation technology over the past few decades, none of these are sufficient to make a great film, and instead merely serve as tools to assist in storytelling.  "History of the World in Three Minutes Flat" is a fine example of a film that is a well told story despite featuring rudimentary animation techniques, and the result was good enough to earn an Oscar nomination for Michael Mills.

In slightly more than three minutes, "History of the World in Three Minutes Flat" does exactly what the title says it will do, telling the story of the world from creation through modern times.  The film starts with animation as simple as a black circle on a white page, signifying Earth, and goes from there.  Everything is done intentionally simply, and thus the film has the look of a "The Far Side"-esque comic strip.  It's funny and brief, and packs into three minutes what takes far longer for most animated films.

Perhaps some of the bloated animated shorts of recent years should take a hint from Michael Mills.  Surely if he can tell the history of the entire world in three minutes, they can manage to trim their running times a bit.

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