My favorite short film of all time is an animation called “Duet” by Glen Keane, a famed animator who spent the majority of his career working for Disney, creating loved characters such as Tarzan.
“Duet” chronicles the life of a boy and a girl. He grows from a baby, to a boy with a dog, to an adventurous man who falls in love. She becomes an elegant dancer after being a stumbling toddler. Their lives intersect, seemingly as though the Universe would not give up until they were finally together.
The video is calm and painterly, in blue and white tones with occasional flashes of pink. The style is sketched, so the film feels more like a storyboard or flip book set to music rather than the rounded and polished Disney style for which Keane is known. But despite the unfinished edges, the video is very fluid. It is ethereal and out of time, not only because of the style or the accelerated timeline of seeing the two characters age, but also because of the dreamy music.
To me, this video is not just an artistic representation of life, or a sweet love story. It goes beyond both to show passion. Each character has a lust for life – they follow their vocation. They accept love as it comes to them. This movie shows how to Carpe Diem – alone: climbing mountains or facing an audience; and together: falling in love. Keane highlights the beautiful things in life – love, adventure – and leaves out the scary parts, putting the spotlight on only one side of the duet of life. There is no fear of vulnerability or of failure. Perhaps the video is idealized, and thus flawed. But perhaps sometimes it’s okay to focus on the good and beautiful.
With luck, like in this lovely film, in the end the beautiful outshines the hard stuff anyway.