La Maison en Petits Cubes | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 22, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 22, 2015

ANIMATED SHORT REVIEW

La Maison en Petits Cubes

A Walk Down Memory Lane

La Maison en Petits Cubes, also known by its English title “The House of Small Cubes,” is Japanese animator Kunio Katō's most critically acclaimed work. This Japanese animated short subject film received the 2008 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film among numerous other awards. In a span of only 12 minutes and 7 seconds, this film unravels as a beautiful metaphor for memories. 

In a town where persistent floods cause water levels to rise continuously, an old widowed man has to frequently build additional levels to his house with cube-like bricks to prevent being submerged. The only connection remaining between the floors is a small square-shaped sealed hole between the new level and the one left behind. 

This emotionally charged short film can be dissected to find numerous metaphors about time, memories, old age and loneliness. One of the most notable messages of the film is the flood itself; the water acts as a passage of time that compels one to move forward – the “hole” being the memories that link past and present. 

This is not your typical anime with huge-eyed characters or the signature bright bold animation style. Moreover, it does not have the smooth movement a regular anime would. In fact, it is almost like a moving sketch. The artwork is mostly done with darker hues. While it may not be what we typically call “strikingly gorgeous animation,” it is nonetheless breathtaking. 

Don't worry about squinting at subtitles for 12 minutes because there is no dialogue. Instead as you watch the film progress, you have the soft moving music by Kenji Kondo. The music sways in tune with the storyline and speaks much more than any number of words possibly could.

The 12 minutes of watching this ode to nostalgia will be enough to contemplate how your own House of Small Cubes may look in retrospect. Do view this magnificent short. It might be twelve of the best minutes you ever spend.

With a keen eye and a broken brain to mouth filter, Mahejabeen Hossain Nidhi has a habit of throwing obscure insults from classic novels at random people who may or may not have done anything to warrant them. Drop a line at mahejabeen.nidhi@gmail.com

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