Reviewed: The Lost Thing (2010)

Film Review – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Once upon a time I was a collector of those postcards that you often find in cafes. You know the sort, they’re usually on a rack somewhere near a window, and there’s about twelve different kinds promoting new films or exhibitions.

Back in those days, I rarely took notice of what the cards were selling and only picked them up because I liked the images. I still have one that I found on a day not unlike any other, of a boy and a strange creature/machine walking side by side.

The Lost Thing (Shaun Tan)

I stuck this picture on the wall of my closet-sized bedroom where it stayed for almost a year, until I moved house.

Its now in a box, somewhere along with all the other trinkets and memories from that time, and was mostly forgotten about until about four years later when I was working one day at the video store. One of my regulars came up to the counter with a handful of DVDs. At the end of the transaction he asked if I’d accept a donation for the store.

“What are you thinking of?” I asked.

“It’s a short animated film based on one of my books,” he said. “It received a few awards at some festivals and I’d like the store to have a copy, so it can be seen by others.”

lost thing dvdI agreed to take it. He handed me the film, thanked me and then left the shop. I turned the box over to see the cover. The Lost Thing, it said, and under its title, a picture of the boy and creature/machine from my old bedroom wall.

That evening, I took the disc home to give it a watch. I can count the number of films that, once the end credits finish rolling, I put straight back on and watch again. This was one of them.

The beautifully-rendered computer animation of Leo baker brings Shaun Tan’s original art to life in a way that is truly magical. While emulating Tan’s picture-to-picture comic book style in moments, the final result is a truly cinematic experience. The deceptively simple-looking complexity of Tan’s designs are perfect for this style of animation that adds depth and character to a world already brimming with imagination and soul.

lost thing screenshotA lesson in understatement, the contemplative score counters the naturalistic sound design of the film perfectly. Tim Minchin, you may have heard of him, delivers narration with a quiet ‘every man’ approach that really draws you in, adding to this understated tone.

All of this was a long time ago and a few months after Shaun gave the DVD to my store, the film won an Oscar for Best Animated Short.

This playlist also contains the full film (in two parts) and some extras featuring Shaun talking about the process.

Visit their sites for more information:

Shaun Tan – Leo Baker – Tim Minchin