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Stop-motion Shorts to Inspire Your Creative Thinking

Alex Menace Jun 28, 2022 Scroll to read in 7 minutes

I'm currently reliving my university years by talking about and watching inspirational animation as research - this time around to allow me to brush up for my new(ish) role at A+C, where I represent the latest wave of inspirational animation.

I've revisited some films I remember from university and discovered some new ones. Below are my picks that will spark inspiration and give you some scope for the limitless possibilities of stop-motion animation!

The Cameraman's Revenge

1912 ‘Месть кинематографического оператора’ Directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz

If you've ever wanted to see a beetle kick the shit out of a grasshopper for sleeping with his wife, this is the film for you. A jilted beetle husband takes his revenge by filming his beetle wife and her grasshopper lover and showing the result at the local cinema. Harsh but fair.

Cameramans revenge

Story of the Bass Cello

1949 ‘Román s basou’ Directed by Jiří Trnka

Based on Anton Chekhov's story "Roman s Kontrabasom". Princess Bibulova decides to go fishing along the river while not far away, a bass player leaves his two companions to go for a swim. Charmingly animated and delightfully lewd. The attractive green colour scheme makes the cello unveiling particularly beautiful.

Bass cello

Neighbours

1952 Directed by Norman McLaren

In this Oscar-winning short film, Norman McLaren employs the principles usually used to put drawings or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower.

Neighbors

The Hand

1965 ‘Ruka’ Directed by Jiří Trnka

Objectively groundbreaking on an artistic level for its animation and technique. A happy little potter is approached by a giant hand which wants him to sculpt its statue. The potter refuses, wanting nothing more than to be left alone. As the hand's request gives way to bribery, demands, and threats, the potter becomes more desperate to escape its clutch, leading to tragedy.

The hand

The Demon

1972 '鬼' Directed by Kihachiro Kawamoto

This film is beautiful and creative, and subtly creepy. The puppets are exquisitely made, while the flat scenery and traditional shamisen music create a haunting atmosphere. Two brothers, who are both hunters and live with their mother, go to the mountains to set traps for deer. Suddenly, a demon grabs the younger brother...

The demon

Closed Mondays

1974 Directed by Will Vinton, Bob Gardiner

A man visiting a museum sees the works of art come to life. The animation is excellent, and it features some very trippy imagery.

Closed mondays

Conflict

1983 'Конфликт' Directed by Garri Bardin

Only 7 minutes long and features no humans, yet it still presents one of the strongest anti-war statements I've seen. The heroes of the film are ordinary matches. A quarrel that breaks out over nothing turns into a real battle in which both warring sides are burned.

Conflict

Street of Crocodiles

1986 Directed by Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay

Suspenseful to the core, enigmatic, darkly atmospheric and rationally incomprehensible. This human-created nightmare is a stream of consciousness of inert objects searching to gain life, removing the screws that attach them to lifelessness and resorting to meat to incarnate the material covering of a living being.

Street of crocodiles

Balance

1989 Directed by Christoph Lauenstein, Wolfgang Lauenstein

The setting is on a floating platform where a group of evenly and carefully placed men live. Each man is aware that the platform is not stable, and in order not to fall to their deaths, they maintain a careful balance of weight to prevent the platform from tipping too far.

Balance

Food

1992 ‘Jídlo’ Directed by Jan Švankmajer

BREAKFAST: After eating breakfast, a man is transformed into an elaborate dumb-waiter-style breakfast dispenser - and the same fate befalls the man who obtains breakfast from him. LUNCH: After failing to catch the waiter's eye, two would-be diners end up eating everything within reach. DINNER: Portraits of various meals made up of human organs.

Food

More

1998 Directed by Mark Osborne

A factory worker in a dark, grey world assembles devices that promise happiness. In his spare time, he tinkers to create something better and finally succeeds in perfecting his invention, allowing people to see life through rose-coloured glasses, but he has to pay the price for his success.

More

Madame Tutli-Putli

2007 Directed by Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski

Drop-dead gorgeous claymation - Madame Tutli-Putli boards the Night Train, weighed down with all her earthly possessions and the ghosts of her past. She travels alone, facing both the kindness and danger of strangers. As day descends into dark, she finds herself caught up in a desperate metaphysical adventure.


Madame tulti putli

The Eagleman Stag

2010 Directed by Michael Please

An original, exquisite piece of craftsmanship. The Eagleman Stag is about one man's obsession with changing perceptions of time. Interested in taxonomy, our central character finds a beetle that may hold the answers to the questions he has been searching for.

Stag

Bottle

2011 Directed by Kirsten Lepore

A transoceanic conversation between two characters via objects in a bottle. Utterly charming.

Bottle

Mound

2011 Directed by Allison Schulnik

Mound is incredible, moving, unsettling, wondrous & meditative all at the same time. More than one hundred pallid puppets – clowns, spectres, gnomes, wraiths, and ghouls – writhe, sway, plod, and transform with awkward grace to the mournful musical accompaniment of It's Raining Today by Scott Walker

Mound

Oh Willy…

2012 Directed by Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels

A bizarre and utterly moving story about rebirth and moving on, told in a charming aesthetic. It manages to be so specifically strange that it becomes universal.

Oh willy

Fresh Guacamole

2012 Directed by Adam Pesapane

In this follow-up to his stop-motion hit Western Spaghetti, director PES transforms familiar objects into Fresh Guacamole.

Fresh quac

Marilyn Myller

2014 Directed by Michael Please

Incredible stop-motion styrofoam animation. Marilyn is trying hard to create something good. For once, her expectation and reality are going to align. Nothing can go wrong.

Marylin myller

Hi Stranger

2016 Directed by Kirsten Lepore

This film managed to soothe my anxieties better than my therapist ever could.


Hi stranger