Jun 26, 2022
There is not much to say about this 30-minute short film without mentioning spoilers. It has a melancholic and heartwarming atmosphere to it and an unconventional narrative style. It leaves us with an interesting end that is sure to make the viewers ponder about the film. The art is soft, with almost childlike fantasy, and the few background music scores are soothing and strong enough to set the mood.
Pigtails deals with three broad themes closely intertwined with each other-the conflict between the old vs young, the eventuality of death, and importantly, the end goal of both humans and objects. Are humans, like objects, meant
to make others happy even at the cost of their lives or is it different for them? Should we fight with others with the limited time we have instead of enjoying the time with others? Is it better to be ignorant and happy rather than being knowledgeable and agonized about it?
Exhibit A: The pin fight
In the very beginning, we see two groups of pins-the older red ones and the younger white ones. The latter are mocking the red ones for being weak and old despite being experienced. Symbolic of the brashness one experiences being young, a red pin attacks the white one and this triggers feelings of revenge and superiority among the red ones. The conflict ends with both sides getting wrecked and destroyed. The irony however lies that the girl makes their parts work together. People clash with others all the time due to differences between them yet they all arrive at the same place called death and end up being used by others.
Exhibit B: The toothbrush
We see a new white toothbrush meeting two older ones-red and blue and getting no response while greeting them. While the tube pities that they are not being used and only gathering dust, the white toothbrush soon comes to a revelation-that they once belonged to the girl’s parents; that the pig-tailed girl who now lives alone had a thing called family. The white toothbrush wishes the older ones a good night, acknowledging the fact that they were “dead” like the girl’s parents but still, proof of their existence remained, as toothbrushes both physically and as memories within the girl.
Exhibit C: The mailbox
The mailbox does not serve any direct purpose yet it claimed to be useful. How? Because it served as a motivation for the boy to post the letter confessing his feelings for the girl and eventually giving it to her in person. Without the mailbox perhaps the boy would not have any incentive to come over or to write a letter to her. Hence, even by doing nothing, the mailbox served its purpose, much like many of us whose presence is enough to provide comfort and solace to others.
Exhibit D: The radio
The radio comes from the ‘other side’ bearing with him the knowledge of that place. The umbrella and the pillow, young and inexperienced to the vagaries of the larger world, are quick to dismiss him as a lie teller. But when they hear the calming song from him, they feel compelled to at least accept him. Genuine feelings have the power to convey things that normal communication can’t achieve and even alter a person, much like how the boy transmitted it to the girl.
Exhibit E: The balloon and the teddy
The turning point occurs when a red balloon comes from the other side and tells others what’s the real truth behind the walls-a place where people from the ‘farm’ are harvested to provide organs to the disabled living there , who are influential and rich. While the umbrella and pillow believe him and express disgust at the action, the teddy dissents. He feels that the action is justified as both humans and objects should not be selfish and should gladly give away their parts to help others. The teddy, already worn down by age, may be comfortable to be dismantled to provide for others. But what about those who still have a long life left ahead of them? Here comes again the conflict between the old and the new-the older ones who have lived long enough and now find it justifiable to be of help to others at their deathbed vs the young ones who have vitality and hope to live longer for themselves and are afraid at the prospect of death, which will be inevitable for them in the future.
Exhibit F: The girl’s choice
The girl, driven by her feelings for the boy and instincts for survival, escapes. When she is close enough to leave the farm for good, she gets a glimpse of her solitary house basking in the few rays of sunlight and decides to stop and return. Amongst the scene of broken objects, she accepts her destiny as one who is going to be sacrificed for others. What did she see in that quaint small house? As the balloon asks, is she really happy with her choice?
The show does not answer this and leaves it to viewers to interpret. Personally, she had accepted her fate as an ‘object’ meant to be sacrificed for the sake of others. She does not have anyone close to her and even the boy whom she likes is likely to live a short life as he belonged to that place of the disabled. After he goes away who will she stay beside her? Looking back at her house she realizes that it’s like herself. It has no one else near it, it only exists to shelter the girl, and once its purpose is fulfilled it will probably be abandoned or given to someone else until it breaks down. Yet was its existence meaningless? Not really because it gave the girl a home to live in and allowed her to live a bit more in contentment.
Then couldn’t she do something similar to help others, to allow them to live a longer life and be happy compared to her who is all alone in this world? She may even allow this boy she liked to live longer when her organs would be used to prolong his life. She feels that she cannot find happiness with others but she can at the least make others and this boy happy and even be happy herself for a brief time by thinking of her “sacrifice” as a good deed.
Is this right? Should this be allowed? Doesn’t the girl have a right to live with others happily? A lot of such difficult questions are propped up by the film and none of them have a conclusive answer, which makes it all the more intriguing.
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