VOTD: ‘The Incident at Tower 37’

Bit Films founder and Hampshire College associate professor Chris Perry has created this animated short, The Incident at Tower 37, about a water processing facility operator who has a crisis of conscience when he realizes where the water in his station comes from. It’s less preachy and more enjoyable than it sounds, though the message — that we need to be more conscientious about how our modern lifestyles can affect nature — still comes across loud and clear. Watch it after the jump.

Although the film is obviously meant to impart an eco-conscious moral, I’d say it does a pretty good job of avoiding the trap that a lot of message films fall into, where heavy-handed preaching pushes storytelling basics like “compelling narrative” and “relatable characters” to the wayside. I like the fact that neither the operator nor the fish-man are fully heroic or villainous — each comes to see the repercussions of his actions. And though the ending (spoiler alert) is a sad one, the film is ultimately hopeful about the possibility of a more harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.

TakePart has also posted an interesting interview with Perry, who in addition to his professorship has experience working at companies like Pixar and Rhythm & Hues Studios (as well as a bachelor’s degree from my alma mater, though I wasn’t aware of this fact until I started researching him for this post). Interestingly, Perry says he simply couldn’t make a happy ending work:

I certainly considered a happier ending, but no matter how I tried, it never felt authentic. The design of the world, the dire situation of the fish creatures, the ignorance of the human: these all painted a picture of a process gone too far for one moment of clarity to repair. The ending is truly a Pyrrhic victory for the lead fish. He achieves his original goal, but not without great loss. I do think there is a seed of hope at the end: even despite the tragedy, the fish knows humans are capable of seeing them as the intelligent creatures they are.

Obviously, the hope here is that we humans will learn to be more environmentally friendly before it gets to the point where we’re dying in big catastrophes caused by sad little fish men. To that end, Perry offers this tip:

Commit to no longer buying water in single-use plastic bottles. This will save you bundles, and from that savings you can get yourself a reusable water bottle to keep with you. Fill it with tap water when you can, filtered or otherwise.

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