The Magic of Paperman
By Noor Alnaqeeb (@nooralnaqeeb)
The Oscar-nominated animated short film, Paperman, is brought to life by the magic of Walt Disney Animation Studios. The short film introduces a groundbreaking technique that merges computer-generated design with hand-drawn animations, debuting John Kahrs as a director and compelling the world of animation in a new and exciting direction.
Tangled is a wonderful example of the effects of computer-generated imagery, but what Kahrs succeeded to do with Paperman is use the mood and quality of the hand-drawn cartoons Disney was famous for in previous years. This new technology commemorates traditional imagery while celebrating the advancement of science. The technique allows artists to ‘draw on top of’ the CGI after its creation to smooth the separation between science and sketches. Although this is a great advancement and a big change, what shall always remain the same with Disney animations is the heart of the tale.
Paperman is a story of destiny, desire and determination. The animation is striking and the storyline is inspiring. The tale is set in mid-century New York City where a lonely man and beautiful woman briefly meet, changing both their lives for the better. Every frame is engulfed in black and white and dialogue is replaced by the picturesque compositions that create a language of its own. The film expresses with the accompaniment of quiet and a powerful score, a lonesome boy who has momentarily had his life enriched with the exuberant color of the girl’s liveliness. The touch of red on her lips, transferring to the paperwork in his hand uncovers their destiny in the matter of a few frames. The union of their two worlds inspires hope that they could learn from one another and grow. This story blossoms before our eyes before it takes place in the film, but within ten seconds of their introduction, she is gone and he is alone once more.
Wholeheartedly convinced that this woman who has entered and exited his life so swiftly is gone for good, he sees her across the road in a faraway window while in his office. His imagination is the key to getting what he wants, and more importantly to facing his fate. So as he fails again and again, yet tries over and over. And with a touch of luck and a dash of Disney magic, implied by the paper airplanes that suddenly have a mind of their own, their paths are finally intertwined once more.
The dominant score punctured by genuine moments of comedy have amalgamated to craft a remarkable six-minute love story. With Paperman, Disney has done what is does best, brought a smile to audiences’ faces and brought hope into their hearts.