I posted the trailer for Second Hand a few months ago, and knowing Isaac King‘s track record as a commercial animation director, I had high hopes for it. Having seen the entire short now, it pleases me to report that Second Hand ranks amongst the most fully conceived and visually arresting shorts that I’ve come across this year.
The most striking element is the visual world that King has concocted through a novel combination of stop motion and hand drawn animation. The world lies somewhere between flat and three-dimensional, and the characters fit nicely inbetween with quasi-cubist faces and stylized patterns of movement. It’s the type of visual experience befitting a larger screen than my laptop and I hope to see it in a theater someday.
The film’s graphic originality almost made me overlook the powerful storytelling, which “examines the imbalance and waste” created by the modern-day obsessions of saving time and collecting junk, which King shows are actually two sides of the same coin. As the film began, I initially thought it was headed for a simplistic pro-environmental creed, but there’s actually a far more sophisticated and poignant message embedded within.