The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box is a fascinating short film by English illustrator and filmmaker Temujin Doran, which was named a finalist in the 2011 Nokia Shorts Video Contest. Thousands of videos from around the world were submitted and judged over a four month period, and from those seven films were selected as finalists. The seven finalists were screened and judged at the 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Temujin’s short film has been described rather simply as the story of one boy’s escapades with a large cardboard box, which he uses as a gateway to a multitude of fantasy adventures. The film is, of course, much more than that; it is no accident that Temujin cited the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip as the main inspiration for his film. As with the major underlying theme of Calvin and Hobbes, this film can be viewed as a contemporary narrative about one young boy’s uses of a transitional object in his play and illusions as explorations of ideas about identity and the self. Ultimately, the film becomes a perfect combination of humor and melancholy loss.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

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Mrs. Peppercorn’s Magical Reading Room

Mrs. Peppercorn’s Magical Reading Room

Mrs. Peppercorn’s Magical Reading Room is a gorgeous 24-minute family-friendly fantasy short film by British filmmaker Mike Le Han, which is rapidly acquiring a cult following in the U.K. and further afield.

Softly-spoken, with an unfashionable English Midlands accent, and wearing 1970s-style chest-length hair, Le Han looks like everybody’s idea of a hard-working rock band roadie. His style may appear retro, but he is clearly a very persuasive man since everyone involved in Mrs. Peppercorn donated their services. This left the production costs coming in at a miserly $50,500, all raised by family and friends. Remarkably, Mrs. Peppercorn’s Magical Reading Room boasts the kind of performances and production values normally found in a big-budget blockbuster.

The film is both magical and mysterious, and from the opening frame it creates a dark world where things go bump in the night and mystery lies around every corner. Mrs. Peppercorn tells of a lonely child who is forced to move by her adopted parents to a remote and spooky Cornish fishing village in the dead of winter. The story is rich in atmospherics in the way it shows how the child finds solace in a mysterious, dust-encrusted bookshop that satisfies her craving for reading and, more important, gives her a sense of belonging.

Mrs. Peppercorn’s Magical Reading Room

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Bartholomew’s Song: A Strict Dystopian Future Society

Bartholomew’s Song: A Strict Dystopian Future Society

Bartholomew’s Song is a short film co-directed by Lowell Frank and Destin Cretton, which was a 2006 Student Academy Awards National Finalist.  The film tells the story of a strict dystopian future society, where each person is named Bartholomew followed by a number.  All day long, they are forced to perform monotonous work at a wall-stopper factory.  But one day, the monotony is interrupted by a mysterious music box, confronting pre-programmed Bartholomew #467 with a new decision: stay in line or step out and suffer great consequences.  This short film is definitely relevant for the times we are living in.

Bartholomew’s Song: A Strict Dystopian Future Society

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An Imaginary Life: Where Do Dead Imaginary Friends Go?

An Imaginary Life: Where Do Dead Imaginary Friends Go?

My Imaginary Friends

I usually very frequently post articles about Barack Obama. In fact, my articles here about him go way back to when he first published The Audacity of Hope. I ran across Barack when he was doing a book signing at one of our neighborhood bookstores, 59th Street Books in Hyde Park. Immediately afterwards, I went home and began writing my first and second articles about Obama. One of my last articles about him was posted here upon the emotionally stunning occasion of Obama’s election to be President of the United States. Subsequently, almost all of the media attention has been focused on the quotidian details of speculations about who Obama might select for senior staff positions in his administrations, and about how and how well various potential candidates might perform. And media pundits’ quarrelsome bickering about all of that. I have decided to refrain from joining in on the daily dramas of the media “guessing games.” For now, Barack is gone; he’s been very busy in a bunch of secret meetings, hidden away behind closed doors. And for the time being, that leaves me feeling a bit sad, like my imaginary friend has faded away.

So then I began to think more about imaginary friends. It’s hard for me to remember having any imaginary friends. Never did. Ever. That I can remember, anyway. Well, now that I’ve thought about it some, I did meet up with some imaginary friends when I was a youngster. I liked them a lot, too. I met them through books. You see, nobody taught me how to read, but I was already reading books when I was just five-years old. Robinson Caruso was my first imaginary friend, though he was always a bit fuzzy and cluttered up by all the pictures of the flora and fauna on that lush tropical island, as well as by the various colorful characters he encountered. Anyway, I didn’t stick with any one imaginary companion very long, over the years running through uncountable adventures of the the Bobbsey Twins (mostly Bert), Dorothy from Oz (but mostly The Tin Man and The Scarecrow), Black Beauty, The Lone Ranger, Rocketman and Lassie. Oh, I certainly can’t forget this one, and I had a dog that was really my bestest-ever-ever imaginary friend. I rescued him from a situation of terrible physical and emotional abuse, and we immediately became inseparable. But then he died (actually, got run over). All of them ended up just fading away from me. But part of me still wonders: where did all of my dead imaginary friends actually go?

About Imaginary Friends

For much of the first-half of the 20th century, experts about children either relegated or attributed imaginary friends to an immature stage of “magical thinking” that children needed to outgrow, or else the very notion of the existence of imaginary friends was just plain darkly dismissed.

But nowadays, an almost exactly opposite perspective prevails about imaginary friends. Studies in the area of child development have found that far from being done with imaginary companions at the age of four, older children (as well as some teenagers) report having imaginary companions. Research now suggests that imaginary friends can provide emotional stability, feelings of competence and a sense of enhanced social perception. Once again, “wholesome fantasy” is alive and well!

But what happens to one’s imaginary friends when childhood imaginary companions fade away, are rejected or dismissed when real-world opportunities for social interaction become more available and appealing to the child? Where do the poor little imaginary friends go when they die? Are they really gone or dead, or are they still sadly hanging around down here, watching as the real world goes around and passes them by? The following animated short film addresses that very question. At first, the film seems to be a light-hearted and humorous one, but the issues with which it deals are universally serious topics, matters of rejection, life and death.

Where Do Dead Imaginary Friends Go?

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