886. The Yellow Bird – Tom Schroeder

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SUMMARY: A young man working on a farm in eastern Montana accidentally shoots himself. On the cart ride to Havre to seek medical attention, he slips in and out of past memories.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘The Yellow Bird’ feels like a bold shift in tone for the brilliant and underrated Tom Schroeder. Though tinged with melancholy, his previous shorts have largely been balanced with a lightness of touch that makes them amusing, joyous and warm. ‘The Yellow Bird’, based on a story by Jay Orff, takes things to a much darker place and consequently feels like one of Schroeder’s most substantial works yet. Following the story of a farm hand in Montana who accidentally shoots himself, ‘The Yellow Bird’ largely takes place in the back of a horse-drawn cart as the man tries to reach Havre for medical attention. On the way, he slips in and out of consciousness and recalls images from his past, revealing several key details as to how he ended up where he is. A yellow bird flies alongside the cart, its symbolic significance gradually becoming clearer as we are fed more details. Told without dialogue, ‘The Yellow Bird’ is similar in visual and storytelling style to Schroeder’s previous ‘A Plan’, although in atmosphere and colour palette it is much darker. Although he remains something of a cult animator, Schroeder’s work continues to impress enormously for those who seek it out.

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