Charlie Mackesy and Peter Baynton’s Annie Award-winning and Oscar-nominated feel-good short film, about the unlikely friendship between a boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse as they explore the meaning of kindness, courage and compassion, brims with comforting, heartwarming messages of hope.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse is a heartwarming, beautifully drawn short animation that just won four Annie Awards, including Best Special Prduction, and is one of five deserved Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short. Launched this past Christmas, it’s brimming with comforting messages that soothe the existential fears most of us experience.
The setting is a snow-covered field in which a boy, who resembles Christopher Robin of the A.A. Milne tales, finds himself. Alone and understandably fearful, he longs for home but isn’t sure how to get there.
Though the film offers little in the way of backstory, the boy’s emotional journey keeps us engaged. There are four characters but only two principal voices: the boy who is struggling to find meaning and connection, and words of wisdom voiced by the animals. For example, “Always remember, you’re enough just as you are.” Given the abstract nature of this thought, I do wonder if it’s as deeply meaningful to a child as it is to an adult viewer.
Take a moment to enjoy the trailer:
Driving the plot forward are three principal conflicts and their resolution, the central motif being that emotional challenges are resolved by compassion, connection, and reassuring words. The narrative is inspirational in the way that stories like “Le Petit Prince” are. While the film offers little in the way of plot twists or complex character development, the dramas are confidently resolved by comforting words and the calm that comes with feeling deeply connected to one another.
Perhaps the film feels a bit long because the dialogue plays a greater role than plot? Or perhaps because so much of the dialogue is centered on wise sayings? Regardless, it’s a gorgeously rendered, feel-good film that well merits the many awards it’s accruing.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse was helmed by award-winning animation director Peter Baynton and writer Charlie Mackesy whose book (of the same name) the film is based on. Tom Hollander, Idris Elba, Gabriel Byrne, and Jude Coward Nicoll star. Producers include J.J. Abrams, Matthew Freud, and Cara Speller. The film is available on Apple TV+.
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