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The Dam Keeper

HD   G Closed Captioning

Robert Kondo & Daisuke 'Dice' Tsutsumi

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About the Movie

The Dam Keeper, an original animated short film by feature animation artists Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, tells the tale of a young pig encumbered with an important job, and the meeting of a new classmate who changes everything.

Customer Reviews

One of the most emotional journey I’ve ever been thorough!

Finally! iTunes is releasing it soon! Just saw it already with other Oscar nominated shorts and this one stood out from the rest! It really struck the chords in making the emotional impact so
beautiful and haunting with a shred of hope at the same time. Given how
this was created by the Former Pixar Art Directors of Ratatouille, Toy
Story 3 and Monsters University, Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo (now in
their own Independent studio a la Tonko House in Berkeley, CA), their
attention to digital painting animation (using TVPaint to make pencil
tests, and animate the paintings using Photoshop over the 3D models)
brings to life of a storybook illustration, or a series of paintings
(differing from Alexander Petrov's paint-on-glass animation technique)
with their first effort into storytelling that managed to worked so
well. After waiting for a year of film festival showings, it finally
got the public release alongside the competitive shorts. It may not be
one of the perfect shorts that has no flaws to find, but it has enough
to call it one of the best animated shorts with the best technique, the
best set of themes and characters, and a clear plot line throughout it.

Running at 18 minutes long (yeah it's the longest of the Oscar
nominees), the story of The Dam Keeper opens with a narration by an
adult version of a pig, named...well, Pig. He must check on the dam
windmill spinning to avoid the air polluted clouds from sinking into
the town. That and also deal with bullying by his classmates for not
getting involved in social activities, being too dirty (since they
don't know what he has been doing this whole time), and the fact that
he's very silent (just like all the characters, but only resort to
grunts and gestures than words). One day, a new classmate enters in
Pig's class named, Fox the fox (redundant much? Well the extras' names
are named after species). He is an artist and a more outgoing type of
person than Pig. In that case, this changes the normal routine and his
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of making a friend who trust his
instincts.

This is my favorite of the bunch. The reason why is just the emotional
impact is so strong, and you can feel much on Pig and his thoughts from
his encounters on bullying, importance of friendship, and willingness
to be accepted in some way (for instance, Fox). The set up with the Dam
windmill checking, and the air pollution blends into the
representations of Pig's dilemma and internal struggles deeply. Not to
mention that the environmental theme is subtle and not too preachy.
While bullying has been written one-dimensionally in past works, I feel
this was handled well here because of how Pig is an introvert who is
not outgoing and keeps everything to himself while the classmates
assume his isolation as weird and decide to prey on him (it does happen
in real life with bullying as a concern for most public schools for
kids and teens, so this has some relatable value for those who have
been bullied or not comfortable with opening to their concerns). I
really dig Pig and Fox's friendship and their dealings with the
bullies. Their sense of wonder, curiosity, fun, sympathy, and trust in
each other make their bonding believable. Something tells me that there
may be more stories of their adventures (could be linked back to Dice
Tsutsumi's Tweet on the possibility of more Pig and Fox adventures as
asked by a reviewer). The flow and pacing felt like Studio Ghibli/Hayao
Miyazaki, same as the music in Joe Hisaishi fashion, despite being
simple, yet it works. The animation is one of the new breaking grounds
never explored as much in mainstream or independent fare (well there
are some that happened). It really got me inspired to try out the type
of technique to produce some day (Dice and Robert's specialty are
illustration, painting, and lighting, so you can tell that they put
into the depths of each scene beautifully).

My only nitpick is that there wasn't much depth of Pig and Fox's
classmates besides making their teasing reasonable throughout the
short. It's regarding how their development grows through it all. If
handled well on other classmates, the emotional impact would've been
more heartbreaking and beautiful. I know it's Pig and Fox's story, but
maybe show us more of the classmates' personalities than just them
teasing Pig.

But overall for what it is, it's one of the best animated shorts I've
ever seen, up there with Fantasia segments, Higher Sky by Eric Cheng,
La Luna of Pixar, the Ghibli Museum shorts in Mitaka, Frederic Back's
works, Alexander Petrov's paint on glass works, Yuri Norstein's works,
and Thought of You dance music video. I wish Dice Tsutsumi and Robert
Kondo along with their studio, Tonko House and animation crew members
good luck in the Independent world without aid from the big studios,
and keep on making more great shorts, maybe continuing Pig and Fox's
story, and others in different mediums. Could it be true that they may
be the American equivalent/spiritual successors of Studio Ghibli or
Hayao Miyazaki/Isao Takahata? Maybe, but we'll see how it goes from
there.

A great film

I was lucky enough to see this last year and was so happy to see this on iTunes. This is a great film that everyone should see. Watch it with your kids. Talk about it. Enjoy it. It is beautiful.

Best Animated Short Ever!

It’s obvious why this animated short is nominated for an Oscar. The complex messages are woven through this beautiful story with incredible artwork and endearing characters. This film will withstand the test of time. This film is a must-see and a must-keep. Bravo to the producers, artists, and directors!

The Dam Keeper
View in iTunes
  • $2.99
  • Genre: Short Films
  • Released: 2015

Customer Ratings