Below is a ranking of the five short films that were nominated in the Animated Short category at this year’s Oscars.
*** ½ (out of 4)
Back in the 1700s, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau got a lot of mileage out of writing paeans to nature. In fact, in one of his most famous works, the Discourse on Inequality, he devotes thousands of words to a glowing and detailed description of humans in a primitive state of being. “To go naked, to be without habitation, and to be deprived of all the useless things we believe so necessary,” he declares at one point, “is…not such a great misfortune…nor…is it such a great obstacle to…preservation.” Conveniently, he never gets around to discussing the diseases and environmental disasters nature can easily throw on the unprepared — but reading him, you do start to question whether modern-day civilization is all it’s cracked up to be.
Throughout its short running time, Michaël Dudok de Wit’s new animated silent film The Red Turtle feels like it came straight out of one of Rousseau’s daydreams.