652. Tom Sweep – Michael Dudok de Wit

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SUMMARY: Tom Sweep is a good Samaritan trying to keep the street tidy for everyone. Unfortunately, everyone else is trying to do the exact opposite.

WHY IT’S HERE: Dutch-British animator Michael Dudok de Wit would quickly garner acclaim for his work which combines an appealing cartoony style and humour with deeper philosophical questions and emotional studies. For his early film ‘Tom Sweep’ however, Dudok de Wit focused chiefly on the humour. This lovely three minute piece follows the obsessive attempts of the titular Tom to keep the street tidy. Numerous slovenly passers-by throw their litter carelessly on the ground, despite the fact that there is a dustbin in clear view. Tom frantically clears up after them, loitering around the bin to try and shame them into doing the right thing. Set to an upbeat little accordion tune, ‘Tom Sweep’ is lightly satirical in its depiction of litter bugs but is largely noteworthy for its lovely character animation. The scene in which Tom hovers while a man finishes his crisps is priceless. According to Dudok de Wit, ‘Tom Sweep’ was originally intended to be the first in a series of shorts (hence the subtitle ‘The Bin’) but no more were made. This is perhaps for the best, as the concept could easily have become repetitive over several shorts. As it is, the one we have is a little gem.

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