Storybook illustrations meet black comedy and potentially an environmentalist message—or maybe absurdism, plain and simple—in Please, a new short from graduating CalArts animation student Josh Swallow.
Draped in lush textures that could have been taken from an Eric Carle storybook, Swallow does The Very Hungry Caterpillar thing, if, instead of an insect trying to get by, the protagonist its an entitled boy in a foreign land. At first he seems to only want to fix his boat and return home, but when he realizes he can absorb the powers of animals by eating them, things get dark really fast. We won't give away the ending, but Swallow quips to Creators that he "thought I would get hate mail from people that loved dolphins." That should be a hint.
"Unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet," Swallow, who could not have a better surname for this, adds.
The dark humor is reminiscent of Wes Anderson's films, which often probe the misunderstood feelings of young men. Swallow draws inspiration from Anderson's use of symmetry and framing, but Carle is overwhelmingly Please's visual ancestor. "I am a big fan of Carle's use of texture, and it was perfect for the storybook and paper cut out style I was going for," Swallow says. "Carle's work was always in the back of my mind."
Watch the film below to see the nihilistic action that was going on in the front of his mind.
See more of Josh Swallow's work below.