When you walk through the streets of a city, what do you see? For most of us, the answer is probably just buildings. Maybe you pass a little bit of street art, but if you’re in a hurry you might not pause to take it in. In Downtown, an animated short film from the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Short Circuit program, a man discovers how incredibly beautiful the city can be.
We are introduced to a nameless, faceless silhouette of a man who misses his bus, causing him to stop and notice some street art. In that moment, the art comes alive, picking him up and taking him on an exhilarating thrill ride through skyscraping streets of color and excitement.
The theme I took away from the film is that art comes in many forms and can come from anywhere. I’ve always looked at animation as an art form and to anyone who doubts or questions that, I say look at Downtown. Like any great work of art, you could hang still frames from this short on a wall and still feel the excitement and the energy of the piece.
This short comes from Kendra Vander Vliet, who regularly serves as a layout artist at the studio. One of her main goals with the project was to play around with new camera moves and that certainly plays a big role in this film. The camera dives and spins as it follows the man on his artistic journey. She was also inspired by the tone of some of her favorite anime programs, which create moments of high energy with limited movement.
When you see Downtown on Disney+, I hope you take away the message that art comes in many forms and from many sources. Maybe it will even inspire you to produce your own art in your community for others to enjoy when they miss the bus.
I give Downtown 5 out of 5 swirls of bright color.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.