I don’t like the idea of old people being alone. I certainly don’t like the thought of them being alone and cold. So normally I wouldn’t recommend any story where that is the entire premise. This is not one of those times. “Winter’s Blight” by Claire Campbell is a moving stop-motion short about an elderly man fighting a long, bitter winter alone in the woods. But just when things get most dire, an unexpected friend arrives to help him survive. In a film whose story is as beautiful as its animation.
Just when you think this short (which we first heard about at Laughing Squid) can’t get any better, boom! The pinecone shares the history behind its tree. This isn’t a story of survival. It’s a story about life and death. It’s a story about how all life is connected, in ways we don’t always appreciate. And it’s a story about love. As the little pinecone sacrifices itself to save the man who always loved that tree. A man who was essentially the pinecone’s family.
Without a word of dialogue, Campbell has created a touching, meaningful tale that spans generations. All in just 13 minutes. But that’s not the only thing that makes this short special. The stop-motion animation is just as stunning as the story it brings to life.
That little cabin is fully realized. As are the fabrics the old man wears and the pieces of wood that fall to the ground with each sad chop of the axe. You can feel the cold win blowing. Just like you can feel the warmth of that pinecone.
If you love this as much as I do, make sure to check out this behind-the-scenes video on the making of “Winter’s Blight.”
Most of the time I wouldn’t want to even hear about, let alone watch, a story about a sad old man living alone in the middle of winter. But a beautiful story about love and life told with amazing visuals? I can’t wait to watch it again.