Movie Review - The Lost Thing

The Lost Thing is an animated short-film based on the children's book of the same name written and illustrated by Australian Hugo award winner, Shaun Tan. In addition to creating the book and film, Tan also co-directs the film with Andrew Ruhemann.

This film demands multiple viewings and it's really no surprise that it has gained critical acclaim as Shorts Award Winner at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films Winner at the Sydney Film Festival 2010 and Best Short Animation Nominee at the 2010 AFI Awards.

The million dollar question however, does critical acclaim make for an entertaining film?

Not always, but in this case, yes. This film checks in at just over 15 minutes, short by any film standards but what it delivers in that short time is truly wonderful and begs for a second, third and fourth viewing.

The film follows the story of a nameless boy, voiced by musical comedian Tim Minchin, who lives in a dull dystopian steam punk world, reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. While searching for bottle tops the boy stumbles across The Lost Thing. A cross between a gigantic hermit crab and an ammonoid  The Lost Thing is housed in a bright red steel structure, in stark contrast to his unsaturated surroundings. When the boy realises that The Lost Thing is friendly and playful creature he decides to take it home.

The visuals in this film are striking and the attention to detail in each frame is truly impressive. Every surface has been covered in some sort of texture or graphic which gives the world an even more grungy, lifeless feel. The animation itself isn't exactly Pixar standard but that would never be expected. Animation costs money and Pixar have no shortage of that. That being said, the animation in this film is probably the best I have seen in an Australian film and makes use of story, score and visual impact to perfection. Another thing that was obvious was the use of depth of field and shallow focus. This helped to create a sense of depth and immersion which is difficult to find in even the big name films.

The film itself is wrapped up in just over 15 minutes but the DVD holds about another 45 minutes of special features including an interview with Shaun Tan, animation and music featurettes and storyboards as well as an audio commentary of the feature.

As a bonus, included with the Madman release of The Lost Thing is a copy of "What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?" a 52 page hardback book containing sketches by Shaun Tan of the creatures from the film.

All in all this was a fun journey into the fantastic and an animated feature that Australia can be proud of.

The Lost Thing is available now from Madman and most leading retailers.


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