Five expressionless beings stand on a small floating platform with their backs to each other. To make sure they don’t tip over, each must carefully maintain their position. When one moves, the balance shifts and the others must compensate.
And then a curious box is fished out from the unknown and each wants to examine it more closely.
Balance (1989) is a stop-motion short created by brothers Christoph Lauenstein and Wolfgang Lauenstein. Though wordless, the grim animation is full of communication made through the characters’ eye contact, movements, and increasingly ruinous calculations and decisions.
Note: This stop-motion short may feel too intense for many younger viewers—the beings choose selfishness and greed over cooperation—but there’s a lot to think about and discuss for kids and adults alike.
Both a parable and an allegory, the German film went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
A higher-resolution version of the film is on Vimeo.
Watch more intense conversation-starters on TKSST:
• Duck, Death and the Tulip
• Lost and Found, a bittersweet stop-motion short
• Premier Automne by Je Regarde
• Father and Daughter by Michaël Dudok De Wit
• Tokri (The Basket), an award-winning short by Studio Eeksaurus
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