It’s the future, and humanity appears to be but a memory, existing only in scattered pieces. That is until a pillow’s needlepoint rendering of three individuals, collectively known as the Clothespin Freaks, finds the spark of life and surfaces to fulfill their destinies, hinted at by their names (Brain Grabber, Pelvis Catcher and Foot Licker). Once aware of their purpose, the group begins assembling the remains of humanity they see all around them.
A short film like Catya Plate’s Hanging By A Thread is clearly going to be an exercise in what you want to project onto the work. It is equally clear that a lot of work went into creating this stop-motion animated piece, and some very specific ideas and personalities were crafted for you to decipher. Is it all one big artsy-fartsy misdirect to get folks seeing more than is actually there?
I don’t think so, but this is the part where I give my interpretation, for what it’s worth. For me, the short explores the idea of creativity being the salvation of humanity, with a nice assist by other elements of Nature. The Clothespin Freaks, borne of their needlepoint rendering, have names and purposes, but it’s not until they watch the bird-like Vulkeets (cross between a vulture and parakeet then?) regurgitate their meal into a new entity, reminiscent of a deconstructed human, that the Freaks realize what they must be doing. Thus they set about fulfilling their purpose, rebuilding a new form of humanity.
Of course, you could run in a ton of different directions here. That’s the direction I took, and I’m not even including contemplation of who, or what, made the Clothespin Freaks, for example. There’s much here to sink your brain into, if you are so inclined. There’s also a musical number.
That said, not every aspect was a home run for me. The score often felt intrusive; too over-the-top for my tastes (one section sounds like rhythmic farting, which I’m not against in general, but seemed ill-paired here). Likewise I found the short’s pacing to be too drawn-out. And I understand that, the hours that went into creating and capturing even ten minutes of this film are extensive, so why not let elements breath more? That’s a decision that serves the filmmaker more than the audience however; it lingers too much, even for only ten minutes.
Overall, though, Hanging By A Thread is certainly a piece of art; a short film that welcomes interpretation and mental involvement. It also is apparently just one part of a larger story, as the film ends in such a way as to inspire another step in the journey to rebuild humanity. I mean, we’re so much more than brains, feet and pelvis bits, so obviously more elements must be found.
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