THEM, written and directed by Robin Lochmann, depicts the struggles of outsiders in a world where money reigns supreme. Only those who are fortunate enough to have money are afforded the opportunities to find success. As the population of this community is tested in several ways, the truth about humanity will cry out, begging to be altered before it’s too late.
In a small town, where everything is bleak and nearly every person possesses the same dull, unoriginal features, one commonality shines brightest among these people…their yearn for gold. A golden river flows nearby that entices passersby and provides them a potential way to better themselves and the people around them. As the town comes together to build a machine that will allow them to become part of the golden river in a mysterious but beautiful way, certain lower-class individuals are left out of the extravagances, causing them to feel like outsiders.
Animation can be a simple but effective way to attract audiences and convey a message in a unique and vibrant fashion. THEM, however, takes a wildly different approach than what cinephiles may expect. The characters present in the film lack facial features and other physical attributes that might allow viewers to tell characters apart.
However, the absence of physical features works to show the similarities between nearly everyone in a given community. The remedial nature of the animation may initially serve as a bit of a turn off, but in later reflection is understood to help eliminate distractions as Lochmann attempts to inform audiences on some of the issues that the world faces.
“… the town comes together to build a machine that will allow them to become part of the golden river…”
The story, themes, and metaphors present in THEM are incredibly important and deserve to be recognized by viewers worldwide. The leading metaphor is that regardless of how one might look, on the inside, that person rarely differs from everyone else. All the things we have in common play a role in who we are but are often shared by others.
As the metaphor unfolds and viewers begin to better understand what is taking place, it becomes clear that there will always be another “them.” There will always be a group that views themselves as superior and will fight to gain what they believe is rightfully theirs. Lochmann essentially pleads with viewers, begging them to understand that there is more to life than power and that accepting those around you is just as essential as accepting yourself.
THEM delivers a message of great importance that viewers must find a way to accept and learn from. Given the state of the world right now, the message hits a little harder than usual, but the metaphor of treating everyone equally is something that constantly has relevance. It appears that Lochmann did everything in his power to make this as short and simple to understand as possible, ensuring that his message is received and acted upon.
The simplicity of the animation provides some mystery, giving audiences a reason to stay engaged throughout. THEM finds the perfect balance between being straightforward and enigmatic, keeping viewers on edge, requiring them to absorb his powerful message.
"…delivers a message of great importance..."