The Hole



The Hole

directed by John & Faith Hubley
Short film

View a still from the film

Observed within a dank, underground setting, two workers casually contemplate the likelihood of nuclear apocalypse. Their debate accompanies scenes of a quaking-kneed missile operator, as inept as an employee of Mr. Burns. The animation has a waterlogged quality, with individuals migrating across the screen as powdery paint sloshing about atop paper. Bleary smudges suggest submarines, warheads, or a noxious wasteland atmosphere.

The characters are translucent and back-lit, their visible uncertainty matching the hesitancies of their conversation. Their words appear too faulty to be entirely scripted. The corporeal world intrudes via collaged elements. As one man thumbs through a cartoon newspaper, clippings of real print appear on the pages. Cut and pasted to the pulp of the animation in life-size fragments, they ground the men’s concerns in contemporary life.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

Two construction workers chat underground, encased by brown, murky surroundings. Improvisation lends their natter a naturalistic tone. As the dialogue tumbles forwards, the men interrupt and speak over each other, refusing to give each line the acoustic space that is usually afforded to speech on camera. The noise of a machine drilling into the ground is just as disruptive, halting their talk and causing the entire screen to shake.

At times, neither character can be seen for sustained periods, leaving us to listen as dark, abstract shapes move in front of us. As the subject of accidental nuclear war is broached, we see the imaginary event unfolding, building in tension until the sound of a bomb rips through the men’s voices. The threat blasts through the light-heartedness, as the workers’ frequently interrupted babble is finally terminated by silence.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

More to discover

You can watch The Hole here, and read an essay about the film by Greg Cwik for the Library of Congress.

Question of the day

Could art end civilisation?
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No. Art is your dedication to life. It’s what carries people through generation to generation. It is the positive facet of civilisation.

– Deradoorian, musician (via The Brief →)

No one thing could end civilisation, but it could contribute to it powerfully and greatly.

– Leah Hayes, bestselling graphic novelist and musician (via The Brief →)

The atomic bomb was once described as the greatest work of art ever created. So taking that definition, yes.

– Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

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