SUMMARY: Matt Phlatt lives in a flat, paper world with his cat Geoff and his fish Chips. When a freak electrical accident connects Flatworld with the artificial world of TV, Matt get implicated in a robbery by a TV burglar who has escaped from the screen.
WHY IT’S HERE: British animator Daniel Greaves won an Oscar first time out for his student film ‘Manipulation’ in 1991. I’ve always felt that ‘Manipulation’ was one of the least deserving animated short Oscar winners as it simply replayed the old animator-vs-creation scenario from films like the Fleischer Brothers’ #Out of the Inkwell’ shorts and Chuck Jones’s ‘Duck Amuck’. Six years after his Oscar victory however, Greaves released a half-hour short that immediately marked him out as on of Britain’s most exciting talents in the medium. ‘Flatworld’ is an intricate, beautiful, funny and gripping film about a man, his cat and his fish who all live in a world made out of paper. This allows for lots of great visual gags, such a road workers using staplers and the protagonist shaving with an eraser, but while a lesser talent may have made these gags the thrust of the entire piece, Greaves demotes them to delightful background jokes, opting instead to introduce a second contrasting world into his story; the world of TV. Due to a freak electrical accident, the colourful, eventful world of TV is linked to the drab Flatworld by way of puddles, through which Matt, Geoff and Chips can enter and exit. Unfortunately, this also allows for a TV burglar to escape his world and rob Flatworld’s bank, pinning the crime of Matt in the process. The rest of the film is one long chase with the police on Matt’s tail in Flatworld, while Geoff and Chips attempt to beat the burglar in TV world with the help of a handy remote control. The sheer amount of ideas going on in ‘Flatworld’ is astonishing and it is so well executed that I would have loved to see Greaves work this gem of a short up into a full-length feature. As it is, we have one of the jewels of short animation instead, an absolute delight of a half-hour which I only wish was more well-known and readily available.