Like many other kids, my childhood dream was to explore outer space. I'm apparently lazy and don't pursue my dreams because I've never come close to a spaceship. Nor space camp. Nor zero gravity. Nonetheless, I've heard of those brave and less lazy people who make it their life goal to work at NASA or SpaceX. And I know there are those even less lazy people who really excel at NASA and are granted the privilege of space travel. I wonder if it's a cyclical thing, us holding up our best and brightest astronauts as examples to inspire our children and the best of those kids then becoming astronauts too, and so on.
Maybe it's the same with filmmakers? The best of them (minorities notwithstanding) are shown off each year at the Oscars for all children to see and aspire toward. There's really no other explanation for why a filmmaker telling a story about "two best friends who have dreamed since childhood of becoming astronauts" would find himself nominated for an Academy Award. I can't tell you if it's been filmmaker Konstantin Bronzit's dream to make an animated short and get nominated for it, but that's what happened with his 15-minute animation "We Can't Live Without Cosmos."
The short superficially follows two best friends as they prepare for a journey into space. They study, train, practice, and study some more. Although the animation is playful and the friends are excited to be where they are, the film builds to something larger. Over time, we begin to understand our heroes' friendship as something at odds with the other almost robotic trainees and scientists. As the two friends excel, one begins to wonder what the real reason is behind their success. Friendship? Ambition? Mesomorphic athleticism? The wordless film offers little explanation, but I can tell you it is as much about the human condition as it is about space travel and animation.
Amazingly, through his simple premise and technique, Bronzit taps into something much deeper, the desire to escape loneliness. Through his two astronauts, Bronzit shows us what's possible through human connection. We can't live without cosmos as much as we can't live without each other. Maybe it's a bittersweet irony, then, that we send our best people deep into space, far away from the rest of us.
"We Can't Live Without Cosmos" is up for the best animated film Academy Award this Sunday, February 28, along with four other short animated films. See the rest of the nominees here.
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