Packing a lot of incisive commentary on both social media and the debilitating grind of corporate culture into a funny, breezy 12 minutes, UK filmmaker Will Anderson’s inventive, BAFTA-nominated animated short Have Heart takes a look inside the inner life of the 21st century’s most popular file format – the GIF.
Opening on a loop of a bizarre but cute animated GIF, Have Heart creates a bizarre world that appears to be a digital mirror of our own, as it turns out the character / star of the GIF, Duck, is just an over-worked middle man at a content agency that’s only identified as ‘WORK’. Anderson’s characters and locations border on the abstract, constructed from large, brightly coloured basic shapes that (just about) hold together in the appearance of something familiar (the main character is a duck).
As Duck’s waning popularity becomes a point of pressure in his work life, he begins to spiral into an existential crisis, seeing things that aren’t there and generally questioning his position in life. The frame tilts and compresses as his crisis crisis deepens, and Anderson plays around with the form and sound with increasing wildness and creativity.
It’s an interesting look at how social media, particularly in recent years, creates viral hits, which creates fame and popularity, and then pressure to keep that 15 minutes of fame going as long as possible. It might not be a total stretch to wonder about a connection between Duck the protagonist and Milkshake Duck, Twitter user Pixelated Boat’s sharp commentary on how viral culture on Twitter often jumps the gun in uplifting people.
Have Heart is a witty, cute meta-comedy that creatively plays with its form, gleaning plenty of laughs from the idea that corporate culture is everywhere, including inside our computer screens.
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DIRECTOR: Will Anderson
WRITER: Will Anderson
COMPOSER: Atzi Muramatsu
SYNOPSIS: A looping animated GIF has an existential crisis.