'Borrowed Time' Lets Two Pixar Animators Explore Depths of Grief and Guilt

By Liza Smith, Parent Herald October 19, 07:00 am

"Borrowed Time" has the quality that any Pixar film has. It definitely looks like a Pixar film and it also sounds like a Pixar film. However, animated short "Borrowed Time" is way different than anything that Disney might produce. It is miles away from the family-friendly movies that the computer-animated film division of big production house produces.

So, why is "Borrowed Time" so similar to Pixar movies? The reason for the similarities is because the creators of the short films, Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats, both work as animators at Pixar. The duo decided to explore guilt and grief and hence produced the short film. It is made by them as a side project, reported LA Times.

The pair ventured into making this short film to show that animation is not a genre just for children. The ultimate goal behind making "Borrowed Time" is to make something that kind of contested the notion of animation being a genre is especially for children. This is explained by Hamou-Lhadj in a featurette which was released explaining the impetus behind the creation of "Borrowed Time."

"We really wanted to make something that was a little bit more adult in the thematic choices, and show that animation could be a medium to tell any sort of story," he said. "Borrowed Time" is visually stunning and meets the standards of any Pixar produced short films. The short has an immense canyon backdrop that serves as the perfect canvas for a battle between darkness and light, reported The Independent.

The story of the short also has the perfect balance between darkness and light. The sole protagonist of "Borrowed Time" is a grizzled sheriff. He revisits a location from his past where he made a devastating error. The film switches gear between the sheriff's carefree youth and the present time. It plays out, cross-cutting between the present and the sheriff's memory. The sheriff in "Borrowed Time" relives the mistakes of a bygone youth. The struggle that he undergoes to make things right, if at all he can, is shown impeccably. It portrays guilt in a new light.

The traditional animation has never touched up on such a sensitive topic. It is dark and it explores the survivor's guilt, depression and bald-faced grief.

"We wanted to take the stereotype, the strong, physical cowboy that doesn't wear their emotions on their sleeve and see what it would look like to take that to a place that's deeper and more emotional to him," Coats said. "And see what that looks like in the western iconography."

"Borrowed Time" has been played at dozens of film festivals and each time the responses vary. Coats explained that people's expectation from an animated movie differs from one another. He feels that "Borrowed Time" is great because they have taken something like animation which is used to depict fantasy and beauty to show a dark topic like guilt. Here, people's expectations are challenged. This is what exactly the creators wanted to achieve.

"Borrowed Time" is available to stream on Vimeo for a limited time.

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