Presto: The Chaotically Witty Man vs. Rabbit “Carrot War”

Presto: The Chaotically Witty Man vs. Rabbit “Carrot War”

Presto is a 2009 Academy Awards Nominee for the Best Animated Short Film. The film’s story line is a salute to the classic screen comedies of the silent era, where a forgetful magician named Presto is undone by the forces of nature, in this case his toothy white rabbit collaborator. When the rabbit angrily takes charge of the magic act, delirious chaos is unleashed on stage. Presto is the one nominee that most incorporates the charm of old-fashioned cartoons, both cinematically and because of its childlike sensibilities.

In Presto, a late 1900s illusionist named Presto DiGiotagione is renowned for his special hat trick, in which he pulls his rabbit Alec out of his formal top hat. The short film begins with a view of Alec who has been left to languish in a locked cage looking hungry and unhappy, yet unable to eat a nearby carrot that is just out of reach. After Presto returns from eating a meal, he gets ready to practice his act with Alec. It turns out that Presto’s top hat is magically connected to a wizard’s hat that is kept backstage with Alec. Ordinarily, when Presto reached into his top hat, his hand would magically appear from out of the wizard’s hat, allowing him to grab Alec and pull him out of the top hat.

Presto had intended to feed Alec the carrot, but realizing that he was already late for the show’s beginning, he rushed off onto the stage without doing it. At that point, Alec began to plot his revenge against the overbearing and cruel magician. Alec decides that he can’t take Presto’s abuse any longer and rebels by giving the magician a big dose of his own mean-spirited medicine. He cleverly turns the hat’s magic against his master in a number of painful and humiliating ways, including: having Presto get attacked by a ladder, get electrocuted, be thrown to the rafters and having his clothes torn off (among other comic tortures).

The audience that had come to see a magic show finds all of these antics uproariously funny, responding with wild applause for both Alec and Presto. All is seemingly forgiven by the end of the film, when Presto gives Alec the carrot (and many more), as well as second billing on the poster advertisements for the show.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16656341 w=650&h=375]

Presto: The Chaotically Witty Man vs. Rabbit “Carrot War”

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