Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Blue Umbrella

The Blue Umbrella
Director: Saschka Unseld
Run Time: 6 Minutes
Genre: Romance

In the cinema, before Monsters University, there was Pixar's short film: The Blue Umbrella (which, may I add, I have been wanting to see for the last 6 months). So I'll talk about that in this post, and Monsters University in another post. I have to say, it was absolutely brilliant! I think it has became my favourite Pixar short, overtaking Burn-E, Presto, Partly Cloudy and La Luna.

For anyone who is yet to see it, I'd like to stress the point that it is constructed solely of CGI. The director wanted the short to be photorealistic which is certainly not what Pixar traditionally do.

The idea of The Blue Umbrella is that the city comes to life when it starts raining. It starts off with the rain pitter-pattering to the tempo of the soundtrack, then the music starts and the city 'wakes up'. The music is called The Blue Umbrella Suite by Jon Brion (feat. Sarah Jaffe) and it's perfect for the short. You can buy it on iTunes here. Along with the rain, the umbrellas come up. The city block is filled with hundreds of black umbrellas. This is where, among all the black umbrellas, one blue umbrella pops up and shakes the rain off. Now, I'm not sure if it was Pixar, or the fact I've been waiting about 6 months for this, but there was an instant connection to the umbrella.

I won't ruing anything on The Blue Umbrella, but the storytelling is brilliant. Pixar seem to have a knack for telling amazing stories without the use of words at all, ie. Wall-E, Up, Partly Cloudy, La Luna, Presto. The use of the music contributes alot to it too.

I don't really know what it is, but there's something about the whole thing that just instantly made me fall in love. It's such a basic concept too (Blue Umbrella meets Red Umbrella - instant romantic spark) yet the whole short is so complex. It's clear that alot of hard work went into every last part of it. Even the (not-so-detailed-blurred-out) backdrop and the hidden faces of people behind umbrellas because they're too difficult to do, even for Pixar.

If there's one thing Pixar are good at though, it's bending things to their will. When the two owners of the Blue and Red umbrellas separate, how do the umbrellas get back to each other? Simple. Wind. They took full advantage of the weather conditions by allowing the Umbrella to catch the wind and force himself out of his owners hands, then allow himself to be carried along until he finds what he's searching for: his soul mate.

While I'm on the subject of the weather, Pixar constantly used different types of rain to set each mood. For example at the beginning, it was just light rain, as everything was slowly waking up. Then, later through the short as he's floating through the air searching, the rain is fast, but soft and light. However - when things turn bad - the rain is heavy, merciless and unrelenting. The rain itself has became a crucial part of the storytelling, almost like a character in itself.

I won't ruin what happens, but I will say that it ends with a happy ending. Although, it was originally not going to, but they couldn't leave him in the state he was.
At the end, the music stops, there's just the rain; light but relentless. And then, something good happens. The music starts again, softer now, bringing with it an overwhelming joy into the hearts of everyone watching.

I don't know what Pixar have planned for their next short, but they're really going to have a tough time if they want to top this. In just 6 minutes, Pixar managed to make me fall in love with an umbrella, fear for his life, and be overjoyed at the fact that he found love.

Again, an umbrella.

So just to finish this all off, The Blue Umbrella is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend that you see it, however you can. Cinema, wait for it to be released, whatever. Just watch it.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

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