Beautiful, terrifying, bizarre: these are only a few words I would use to describe Adam and Dog, the Oscar nominated short film by Minkyu Lee. My guess is most people haven’t heard about Lee or his film, which is one of five entrants competing to be this year’s Best Animated Short Film. Typically when people tune into the Oscars it’s to root for big budget, high grossing films like Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty. Animated shorts tend to rank somewhere around Best Supporting Hairstylist in terms of interest, which is unfortunate, because sometimes a short film can tell a story more powerful than even the longest epic. Clocking in at around fifteen minutes, Adam and Dog is a retelling of the oldest Bible story through the eyes of a very unlikely character, a dog.
Born into Eden, this playful mutt spends its days in paradise doing what all dogs do. When it’s not sniffing out new experiences or chasing after fireflies, it’s barking at passing mammoths and sleeping in sunny fields. Then one day, it chances upon a rather scruffy looking Adam and the bond between the first man and man’s best friend is forged. The rest of the story: the creation of Eve, mankind’s Fall into sin, and resulting exile is handled with a quiet, subtle power. To the dog these events are little more than a side-story, but to viewers, the implied significance strikes fast and strong.
I suppose what I loved most about this film was the way it caught me off guard. Growing up in the Church, I’d heard the story of Adam and Eve about every other Sunday since I was five, and always served up in the same fashion. The story would usually show an angelic-looking Adam and Eve (their anatomy covered by conveniently placed plants) lounging in a bright, foresty setting while a menacing snake lurks in the background. There was never any sense of wonder in the lesson, or innocence, just two people who messed up and a got the boot from God. Yet five minutes into this film, I began to get an idea of what was lost when Man turned against God.
The film is completely hand drawn. It stars no big-name actors, and actually contains no dialogue at all except the sounds of nature. Despite all this, Adam and Dog succeeds in capturing the wonder of Eden, and the shame of sin, before ending with a faint promise of hope many Christian should appreciate. This Sunday, while most people root for their choice of Best Actress or Best Picture, I’ll be cheering on Minkyu’s Lee’s tiny film for Best Animated Short. It’s a new perspective on a very old story, and succeeds in capturing both your heart and imagination with its incredible grace.
*This Article First Published 2/21/2013