Advent Adventures with “The Blue Umbrella”

One of my favorite scenes from Gettysburg is that moment ’round the campfire when General James Kemper responds to his commanding officer, General George Pickett, with one of the greatest back-handed compliments of all time:

“I gotta hand it to you George. You certainly do have a talent for trivializing the momentous and complicating the obvious. You ever considered running for Congress?

I bring this up because A) it’s such a great line, and because B) the link I’m about to share could be categorized as an instance of “trivializing the momentous.”

It’s an Advent calendar, see? Sort of. Only it’s described (with frustrating innocuousness) as a “Holiday Calendar.” And it’s not really about Advent. It’s about a recent Pixar short film, The Blue Umbrella.

Oh, and it’s fantastic.

The film’s director Saschka Unseld is celebrating the film through the new website The Blue Umbrella Making-Of Holiday Calendar.

Every day between December 1st and the 24th, Saschka will present a behind-the-scenes look at the various stages of development and production on the film.

In his first entry, Unself discussed the short’s inspirations: “The other thing that inspired The Blue Umbrella was something I had always done and still do. It is seeing faces and characters in everything.” Subsequent entries (so far) have covered “The Pitch” (to the Pixar kingmakers), the two short clips he showed as part of that pitch (which are really wonderfully), and some of his earliest anthropomorphic work. It’s really great stuff, and I’m looking forward to subsequent reveals.

Of course, as someone who loved pretty much everything about the short (including finding it significantly more memorable than its host film, Monsters University), I was predisposed to love this. Still, I’m a little guilty over my instinctive response that “Christmas came early this year!”

…now who’s trivializing the momentous?

A hearty “Thanks!” to fellow Patheote Tom McDonald, who brought this gem to my attention yesterday. And a fond HT to the invaluable CartoonBrew, though their post title — “How to Make A Pixar Short in 24 Easy Steps” – only makes sense to me if you have a very specific meaning of “easy.” Or if you’re Gary Larson. “Complicating the obvious,” this is not. Quite the contrary, really.

Also, THIS!

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.


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