Short films have largely been declared as the lesser of the two kinds, feature and shorts. The appeal of the full-length feature film was that it offered two hours of escapism, long enough to become entranced by fiction and forego reality for a brief period. This analysis derives from the Great Depression, where movie attendance reached a surprising high, but the prices were cheap and the promise great.
Short films are considered only partial films, because the length of one doesn’t provide enough time to get invested in the story. Also, most short films are devoid of dialogue and are extremely implicit, most finding their execution in metaphorical trails, the ambiguousness providing a smoother transition into the resolution. But lately, as I have further delved through the world of short films, I’ve found some arguments that work in their favor.
Short films are shorter, which is both a blessing and a curse. When a screenwriter starts a movie, he or she usually outlines their work. Most films are composed of a three-
act structure, exposition, action, and resolution. Indeed the most common folly in modern films is the clunky transition between these acts. The transition is a glue that is most commonly composed of clichés. In short films, there is no such issue because it is basically one act. Between Pixar’s five- minute One Man Band and even the twenty-minute long The Old Man and the Sea. Both include most of the same characters throughout and tell a story uncompromised by plot devices.
Because they are so ambiguous in their delivery, they don’t need to worry about pleasing the medium. They’re capable of pulling off a contradiction no full-length film is capable of- being intelligent while also truly being dumb. A short film doesn’t need a political social agenda but at the same time is welcome to it; if it indeed does do that, it lacks any cinematic conventions that would make that obvious.
Right as short films pull their biggest arguments I thought right away of a counter for full-length feature films. Sure, the films are short, but isn’t that a bad thing? What of our attention spans? A recent study showed that children under seven who watched ten-minute episodes of Spongebob showed learning deficiencies. Aren’t our attention spans short enough? When Christopher Nolan dropped the intellectual film-bomb known as Inception in 2010, audiences weren’t prepared for it. I loved it (fanboy brag: I understood it the first time) and so did critics but the casual moviegoer not a fan of Christopher Nolan was most likely confused to the point of annoyance. Short films may really just be decaying our brains like a cartoon.
Full-length films also have the advantage of pop-cultural involvement. The best films feel like you’ve lived a life. With short-films, if you have the misfortune to fall in love with characters, you end up feeling like there wasn’t enough development for them. And that’s not even the film maker’s fault.
Annual viewings and re-viewings. This is my biggest arguments. I love short films but I don’t think I’ve watched any one more than once or twice. I’ve seen Titanic dozens of time and watch It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas. That’s because since the films are longer, there are things you don’t catch the first time (the wrong side of the ship is hitting the iceberg…) and details you didn’t appreciate before (Now I get the message! Love can save you from anything… even the Titanic. Oh.) With short films, that’s something that you don’t have.
If the media would put them into circulation more and if big studios would finance them, I think that short films could be a lot better. After all, the only reason that film makers had the chance to transcend films was because it showed such a popular interest in the first place.