Who ever said you need 90 minutes to tell a story?
The House of Little Bricks is a short feature around the life of a lonely old man in a flooded world. It looks simplistic at first but also extraordinary at how much plot, character emersion and scenario depth they installed in just 10 minutes. Heck, I can even summarize it in one picture: http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/307760_316620285021464_100000204857048_1513931_1215788722_n.jpg
Speaking about depth, the feature literally uses it to tell a story. The old man finds his favourite smoking pipe dropping in a flooded part of his house and thus goes scuba-diving in order to get it back. That allows us to have a flashback that goes in reverse, as we slowly see older and older memories of his life. You see, he always makes an extra floor in his house every few years, while leaving the others submerged to a constantly rising sea level. We are not told of what has happened to the world but it doesn’t even mater as much as getting to know the life of the old man. Each floor gives us a few glimpses of the things he had done while he was living there, things he apparently forgot with the passing of time. One could say that the sea represents oblivion that constantly makes us neglect and forget even important things in life.
By the time he reaches the sea bottom, he cares more about remembering his happy moments than getting his pipe. The scene of him playing in an open green field way before the sea covered his world is indeed very touching. We even get to see the life and departure of his wife and children. All of which happen without a word spoken!
Yes, it is a mute feature that lets the images and the music to tell you everything you need to know about the setting and the cast. It is a perfect form of animated narration as it literally doesn’t tell you anything yet manages to show you everything; a thing your average anime usually doesn’t have as it resorts to long explanatory monologues that feel forced and dry. It is otherwise low on animation or details and even the BGM is a simple guitar playing. Not that makes the feeling less powerful as super awesome artwork and soundtrack would probably distract you from the actual story of this feature.
Being minimal does not take away any importance from the actual context of the story. If it was longer in duration or with dialogue, chances are the emotions it transmits would be watered down by excess in secondary elements. I say that for a 10 minute feature, it told the story it had to say and fleshed out its main character perfectly. Plus, it leaves you with a great feeling of joy, which makes even the simplistic premise to feel far more important on your mind.
I wouldn’t say there is replay value in this, as the emotional impact will most likely thin out with each repeat. But it will definitely be engraved on your memories and no matter how high the sea of oblivion rises, you will never forget it.