Reviewing 2 Short Films (with spoilers)

Short films are sometimes under-rated: almost nobody pays attention to them, but sometimes they can surely pack a punch.

“Toyland” (2015)

This is a short film by Jochen Alexander Freydank, and is spoken in German. You can watch it at this Youtube link. There are English subtitbles, if you don’t speak German.

Spoilers ahead!

Around the World War II, a Jewish boy, David, and a German boy, Friedrich, are friends and learn how to play the piano together. One day, Friedrich sees David’s mother upset and asks his own why. She says that his friend’s family will have to leave soon to “Toyland.” Friedrich wants to go there as well, despite his mother telling him he cannot go. He runs away from home and his mother realizes where he might have gone. She makes it in time to the train station and manages to convince the Nazi soldiers her son was accidentally put on the train that was about to leave towards the concentration camp. She makes David come to her, by calling him “son” in front of everyone. David’s parents are shocked to hear and see all this, but they reluctantly let and push David towards her. David is thus saved from the horrors of the concentration camp and lives with Friedrich until old age. 

This short film is 13 minutes and 55 seconds long, including the credits. At least 12 minutes of it is full of emotions and more:

  • The desire of a little boy to go to a “dreamland”
  • A mother’s despair seeing her son has gone missing
  • Hatred against Jews
  • The pain of some parents giving up their son, in hopes for a (better) future for him
  • Nostalgia
  • Courage
  • Friendship

So many emotions punching you all at once in this film is surreal.

Rating: 5/5 stars – go watch it, after all it’s so short it fits in your lunch break!

“Confusions of a Wasted Youth” (2017)

Confusions of a Wasted Youth is a film by Youtuber Karolina Żebrowska. It’s her graduation short film.

This film is spoken in English, can be watched here and Karolina herself analyses it in this video.

There is little dialog in this short film, and most of what happens should be understood through imagery, acting, and actors’ face expressions.

Karolina says she understood now everything that is wrong with her production, but I say she’s only partially right.

For instance, she picks on the clothes she chose. What I didn’t mention was that this film is supposed to be a comedy set in the Victorian times.

Karolina points out that the chosen clothes were modern and not at all similar to those from the chosen time period.

The untrained eye, in my opinion, wouldn’t realize this, not at first glance. Even if they realize it, they’ll be bothered by other aspects more, like it bothered me, see the 2 points below:

  • For instance, the main character works as a maid. The mansion she works in, however, has little furniture and looks rather abandoned. This is very confusing: is the family impoverished that they had to sell the furniture? If so, how do they afford a maid?
  • At the beginning of the film, the maid goes in one of the storage rooms to take something she needed. The camera angle at this point is VERY bad in my opinion. The camera should have been lowered or set further from the focus point.

Karolina points out they used a printed image to “act” as a painting, and this can be seen clearly. She blames the tiny budget she had, and this can be partially forgiven.

She doesn’t like the long scenes without dialog, one after the other. These didn’t bother me at all. I think that when done well, they can tell the story quite well, or maybe better than the dialog can.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars – i think you need to know before-hand what this film is all about, to be able to enjoy it or understand it.

©Charly Cross 2013 – present. All rights reserved.

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