Puppies. Yes, your day just got a little brighter. Because puppies are cute and filled with love and happiness. Just thinking about puppies is enough to bring a passing smile to face of the most bitter cubicle warrior, and the gift of a puppy is basically equivalent to an explosion of unfettered joy for anyone without a life-threatening dog allergy.
So if you want to make a heartwarming animated short that could maybe play at a few hundred film festivals across the world and rack up millions of views online, your best bet might be something puppy-related. Puppy-related and inspirational. And that was the brilliant idea two animation students at Germany’s Kilmakademie Baden-Württemberg had when it came time to make their thesis film The Present.
Since it first made its way onto social media feeds earlier this year, The Present has more or less broken the internet with its simple story of a young, video game-obsessed boy whose life is changed when his mother brings home a one-legged puppy. Over four minutes, the masterfully animated short hits just about every feel-good button and puts the cherry on top with a plot twist that will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy and overjoyed about how puppies can literally change everything.
But while co-creators Jacob Frey and Markus Kranzler certainly deserve all the accolades their film has earned, the short’s moving story was actually adapted from a comic strip by Brazilian illustrator Fábio Coala Cavalcanti for his popular blog Mentirinhas. Visually, the two animators went in a direction all their own, but glance at the original comic strip shows just how faithful Frey and Kranzler were to the plot of this simple but effective anecdote.
Understandably, the German students toned down some of the Brazilian version’s big melodramatic emotions (the young boy has tears in his eyes for literally half of the comic strip) in favor of a more subdued approach, but the emotional punch is still there. With more than 11 million views and over 50 prizes at different film festivals, it’s no wonder that The Present landed Frey and Kranzler dream jobs over at Disney and Pixar. Let’s just hope the short’s breakout success has also earned Fábio Coala Cavalcanti some much-deserved attention.