SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! In a world of two-dimensional shapes, a dog, a lizard, a snake, and an egg are trapped between planes of existence. Lizard Ladder depicts the animals (and the egg) with seemingly no way out, as their abilities and mental tenacity are tested as they determine the best way to find freedom. Will they be successful in their escape attempt?
Director Ted Wiggin forgoes top-notch animation in order to focus on the more important aspect of the film: it’s messages. The messages, while difficult to decipher, are of great importance to anyone watching. The most prominent is that of perseverance and making one’s own way in the world. As the three animals and the egg attempt to find their way to freedom, they must create their own opportunities, and viewers quickly begin to understand that Lizard Ladder is a story of resilience.
The lizard, in particular, is seemingly the mastermind of the bunch as he is able to create a series of opportunities for himself, even without the support of the others. As he wiggles his way through this unique world, he is forced to work independently and find solutions to his interesting problem. The short presents the world with this idiosyncratic individual who, on the surface, relates in no way whatsoever with viewers, but with a little digging, can be understood as an everyman of sorts. His ability to think critically, make something out of nothing (on more than one occasion), and understand that if he wants something done right, he needs to do it himself resonates with viewers. It affords them the opportunity to see the potential within themselves. The world is a tricky place, as accurately depicted throughout, but even in this world of darkness and despair, light is often lurking just around the corner; one only has to open their eyes to find it.
“…a dog, a lizard, a snake, and an egg are trapped between planes of existence.”
Oftentimes we find ourselves, regardless of the situation, in need of a friendly face or a warm embrace. Ultimately, the outcome of Lizard Ladder is inconsequential, but this motley crew of individuals permits viewers to understand that, even when you are capable of accomplishing something on your own, friends and family always have a place in your success. This is not to say that the lizard, or the other characters, are successful in their escape, but simply that the outcome isn’t what defines you.
Rather, what does is how willing you are to work for what you desire and the people with whom you surround yourself. Those people can play a number of roles, be it lifting you up or dragging you down. No matter the part they play, they remain important for good and ill. Lizard Ladder, in the simplest way, encourages viewers to understand the significance those closest to them play and not to take those relationships for granted.
Lizard Ladder is juvenile in its physical approach, but that makes way for the necessary lesson brought to life by Wiggin. As viewers make their way through this short animation, they come to understand the importance of a number of qualities that they most likely have already procured. While the look can certainly be a turn off to many (and I implore you to look past this aspect of the film), the message is beautiful, essential, and one that everyone deserves to hear. The juxtaposition of simplistic animation and complexity of everything creates a masterpiece of existentialism.
Lizard Ladder screened at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…a masterpiece of existentialism."