The Lost Thing
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The Lost Thing

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“The Lost Thing” is an animated short based on the picture book by Melbourne local Shaun Tan, who also co-directed the film. It follows the story of a boy who finds a lost thing and seeks to return it home, despite the ever-smaller likelihood that it has a home at all.

The Lost Thing is an animated short based on the picture book by Melbourne local Shaun Tan, who also co-directed the film. It follows the story of a boy who finds a lost thing and seeks to return it home, despite the ever-smaller likelihood that it has a home at all. The Lost Thing has won a bunch of awards at a bunch of film festivals (including Best Short Animation at the IF Awards a few months back), and for good reason.

The first thing that struck me about the lost thing itself is how fricking adorable it is. It is never revealed what the thing could be – it’s difficult to even lump it into one of the animal, vegetable or mineral categories (steampunk hermit crab squidplant?) – but it’s certainly hella cute.

The animators have done such a sterling job imbuing the thing with a dynamic – and super lovable – character, a feat considering it’s pretty much mute except for the few mechanical whirring sounds it makes as it trots and bounds about. I actually fell a little bit in love and now I kind of want one.

The Lost Thing’s animation is generally CGI, though a little less polished than the sort of stuff Pixar puts out. A steampunk aesthetic mixed with a sort of dystopian futurism characterises the characters and the film’s setting – which I immediately took to be Melbourne, though that was neither stipulated nor even really hinted at. Perhaps it was the trams that did it.

Kudos again to the filmmakers for inspiring me to forge even more emotional connections with the film. There’s a puppet set quality to the film’s look as well, which works very effectively to further that feeling of shallow functionality that Tan perceives to plague the story’s society – and facets of our own, I’d venture to speculate.