Nothing (2012) – By Cary Conley

This is a unique animated 5-minute short about a man who wakes up to a world that is quickly disappearing. As he reaches for his alarm clock which has just awakened him, the clock and nightstand vanish. So does everything else in his apartment, including the bed in which he is lying as well as the door. The unnamed and totally anonymous man is now completely isolated from the world, trapped in an apartment devoid of any characteristic except a single window. Unfortunately, that window is many stories above the noisy, bustling city, so yelling doesn’t work. Not that anyone would care or take notice anyhow, as the entire city seems to be occupied by self-centered and very focused people who are all exactly the same. They wear the same suits and the same hats, carry the same briefcases, and drive the same cards. These are all cookie-cutter workers who avoid any human contact and are concerned–and consumed–by their own private worlds even as the real one is passing them by. Even as the trapped man opens his wrist and allows his lifeblood to pour down the walls of the building, it goes unnoticed by just about everyone on the street–except for one young lady. This young lady is dressed differently than everyone else. Her clothes are colorful, not the drab gray or brown of all the business suits that pass her by. Her hair is also bright and not concealed underneath a hat as everyone else’s hair is concealed. She is different; she is aware of her surroundings. She runs up the stairs and opens the apartment door just in time to see the trapped man disappear, along with the bloodstains from his cut wrist, leaving not a single trace that the man ever existed at all.

Nothing, which was written, animated, and directed by Demeter Lorant, is a fascinating film that addresses the loss of identity some people have when living in a large city and the fear that they don’t matter and that they could simply vanish and the world would continue with not a single person noticing . It addresses the dangers of conformity, as represented by the workers on the streets, all dressed exactly alike, carrying the same accoutrements, and driving the same vehicles. But the film also has an uplifting message as well, as represented by the lone girl who stands out from the crowd. She is clearly different not just in the representation of her clothing and hairstyle, but because she is the only person not utterly consumed by her own little world, her own anxieties and fears. She is the lone bright spot in the city, made literal in the color and style of the animation Lorent chooses to use for this character. Domokos Varga composed the subtle but effective score that is powerful enough in evoking various emotions such as paranoia and anxiety that the score could be considered a character in its own right.

Nothing is an interesting little short that is open to various interpretations, which is why the film is so much fun. Nothing is making the festival rounds at the moment but can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.fullscreenstudio.eu/nothing. The website also provides some nice background material on the evolution of the film over many years which allows the viewer to see how a filmmaker’s idea develops over a period of time, which is fascinating in its own right.