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By Merle Bertrand | February 3, 2000

Everyone’s well aware of the unspoken rituals of elevator riding: shift around to preserve personal space, stare at the numbers, the floor, the ceiling, anything but each other, and above all, no emissions of noxious bodily fumes within the confines of those four cramped walls. Now Mitchell Rose, in this elegant low key computer animated short, has committed those rules to film. Winner of the Slamdance Grand Jury Award as Best Dramatic Short Film, “Elevator World” approaches modern man’s elevator riding procedures as an anthropologist might study the mysterious rites of a long lost tribe. Mostly using a simplistic overhead view of an elevator’s occupants — think the elementary X and O icons TV uses to diagram an NFL play – supplemented by more sophisticated figure animation, the film demonstrates the instinctive unspoken shifts elevator riders take as other passengers step on or off while a soothing narrator explains the significance of these shifts to the viewer. In this way, Rose’s film not only makes the viewer think about this everyday routine, by extension it subtly drives home the larger point that mankind has evolved societal rituals for nearly every activity in which he partakes. That being said, “Elevator World” is, at four minutes, extremely short and very limited in its scope – not unlike riding an elevator for real — especially when compared to the other shorts in the competition.

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