Visual hallucinations are common side-effects of starvation. The fisherman in Sarah Brown’s stop-motion/claymation short “Live Bait” knows all too well what happens when one doesn’t have anything to eat for a long stretch of time. “Live Bait” starts with the man sitting on the side of the ship fishing, his back slumped. When the camera shows his face, he looks so sad, so forlorn. Barrels filled with fish skeletons suggest that the fisherman has not eaten for several days. Exhausted, he lies down. Famished and desperate for nourishment, he doesn’t think to bring his ship to shore when he spots an island within swimming distance. Hunger has now gone beyond the physical to the psychological.
As the film reveals, the food that the fisherman finds is actually live bait. Like Boris Kossmehl’s claymation short “Not Without My Handbag” (1993), “Live Bait” is bathed in deep, rich magentas, and is both cute and disturbing. The music in “Live Bait,” courtesy of Reid Johnson and Dave Blair, is an upbeat little ditty consisting of a ukulele and whistling. But, what happens to our poor, malnourished fisherman while he is on the island doesn’t match the musical score. This cute-and-creepy contrast works well in creating a necessarily strange environment for the starved man.