Filmmaker: Adrian Flukiger
Year made: 2008
Length: 4′ 50″
Technique: 3D claymation
An anxious, tense-looking weasel-like creature switches off his TV and checks his watch. The room is bathed in a reddish light, and there are traffic noises in the background. He clicks two switches on the wall, which turn out the red light and start a flashing yellow light in the room below. He slides down a pole to this room, which turns out to be a bedroom. He gets into bed and is asleep in seconds, although the yellow light continues flashing. An exterior shot shows a traffic light with a flashing yellow signal. Inside the weasel’s dwelling, we see that there are three rooms: the top one contains a toilet, an armchair, the TV and a coffee-maker; the middle one (with the yellow light) is a bedroom, and the lowest room has a table and chair, and an alarm clock.
At 5.00 the alarm clock goes off. The weasel switches off the yellow light, switches on a green light in the lowest room and slides down. He stops the alarm, pulls a paper from a slot in the wall and sticks it to the wall: it’s labelled ‘PLAN’ and has a complex grid of red, yellow and green squares. He picks up a cup and straightens a picture: both cup and picture have dotted lines around them showing where they are meant to be. He goes upstairs to the next room, switches the green light off and the yellow one on, and puts a sugar cube in the cup. On the top floor he changes the lights again from green to red, and puts the cup into the coffee machine. While the coffee is filtering he goes to the toilet. We follow his activities, going from room to room, altering the lights as he does so, and straightening the picture each time he passes it. He cooks a sausage and eats it, then dozes in front of the TV while the red light is on, dropping his coffee cup on the floor. Woken by an ambulance siren and the screech of brakes, he switches the yellow flashing light on again and goes to bed. But the cup is still on the floor of the top room.
When he wakes in the morning, he absent-mindedly picks up a watering can instead of the coffee cup. It won’t fit into the coffee machine and coffee flows all over the hot plate while he is sitting on the toilet. He pulls all the paper off the toilet roll, mops up the coffee, and wants to go back to the toilet but has to go downstairs first to switch on the green light. Back in the middle room to get the toilet paper, he switches on the yellow light, but then drops the paper and it rolls down the stairs. He switches the light back to green and goes downstairs to get the toilet paper. There is a screech of brakes and a crash. The room tilts sideways, he falls to the floor, and the picture slips once again on the wall. The room is suffused with daylight, some of which shines through jagged shards of green glass. He gets to his feet and stumbles to the now broken window, through which we can seen distant buildings and sunlight. He steps through the window and leaves. The picture remains crookedly hanging on the wall. As the credits roll, we see a series of brightly coloured photos of the weasel enjoying life in the country and at the seaside, to romantic Latin-style music.
Things you might notice
• Visual clues to the weasel’s way of life which show how precisely planned it all has to be, such as dotted lines where everything has to go. But at the same time the layout of the dwelling is illogical in many ways: for example cup and frying pan on the lowest floor; sugar and refrigerator on the middle floor; coffee machine and cooker on the top floor – so one item out of order sets off a fatal disruption of routine.
• Sound: the recognisability and realism of the sound effects (both interior and exterior) contrasts with the chunky, rough texture of the set, props and the figure of the weasel himself.
• The time-frame of the story we are shown covers perhaps two days, but is suddenly extended during the credit sequence as we see snapshots from the weasel’s subsequent life.
Themes to explore
Stories give and withhold information: How long does it take to work out that the weasel lives inside the traffic lights? Very little explicit information is given: we have to infer the reasons for the weasel’s actions and why it all goes wrong.
The ‘what if’ scenario: This is an enjoyable way of stretching the imagination and could move from a focus on the weasel himself (eg how and why did he get the job?) to other ‘what if’ questions (eg what if someone had to live inside your fridge and turn the light on and off every time you opened the door?) and imagining other ‘what if’ scenarios.
Drudgery vs freedom: The last shot is of the weasel’s picture which shows a country scene: was he dreaming all the time of freedom and leisure?