SUMMARY: The natural balance of a tiny society of identical men on an unstable platform is disrupted when one of them drags a large, heavy box into their world.
WHY IT’S HERE: German animators Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein’s ‘Balance’ is a hauntingly superb stop-motion short which tells the cautionary tale of a group of thin, bald men who help each other maintain the balance of the shifting platform then live on by moving cooperatively according to the movements of those around them. When an interesting object is dragged onto the platform, curiosity and greed take over, leading to one of the most haunting final images of a film you’ll ever see. ‘Balance’ reiterates a well-worn message but does so in a way that is more effective than the majority of meditations on similar themes. It’s a stunning, creepy piece of work with a cold, Germanic feel and the expressionless marionettes are somehow able to communicate their thoughts and terrifying impulses through body language alone in a way not equalled since the classic films of Jiri Trnka. ‘Balance’ walked away with the Best Animated Short Oscar for 1989.