Canvas (2020)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Frank E. Abney III
Run Time
8 minutes
Not Rated

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★★5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

My days are past, my plans are broken off,
    the desires of my heart.

Job 17:11
 …with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love… 

Ephesians 4:2
Three generations share grief. (c) Netflix

Watch animator Frank E. Abney III’s Canvas, and you will find it’s 9-minutes the most inspiring period of your day. It is a beautiful reminder of our need for one another, especially when overcome by grief—and also of the power of love to sustain and reinvigorate us.

It is the simple story, told without dialogue, of an old man who sits by his easel but can no longer paint. At its beginning the animation is old fashioned line drawing. We see an eye, then a hand with a paintbrush, and then a  white-haired woman sitting by a tree.  A white-out to more realist CIG animation–an extreme closeup of his eyes, then a medium overhead shot of him in a double bed, alone. Fully dressed now in his wheelchair he looks at the closet as he passes by. Rolling out to the yard where his easel sits empty, he sadly looks over at the tree where his wife had once sat.

His daughter and lively granddaughter visit him regularly. The little girl rushes up to embrace and give him a drawing she as made showing the two of them together. We perceive that she might be following in his footsteps because we next see her intently working on another drawing. When he wheels over to watch she looks up and invites him to join her by extending a crayon to him. He holds up both hands, turning her down.

When the little girl enters his closed-up studio and uncovers the painting of his wife he had been working on, he is upset by what he regards as her intrusion. She touches his hand and moves them both into contact with the portrait. The animation changes to hand-drawn again, and the grandfather has a beatific vision of his wife floating down from heaven to engage him in a ballroom dance. I don’t need to describe the result of that magic moment, for whom the granddaughter serves as catalyst.

Once an  animator at Pixar, Abney has presented us with a marvelously moving testimony to the power of love across the generations. He has followed the dictum ascribed to Francis of Assisi—“Always preach the gospel. When necessary, use words.” In the case of this exquisite film, they certainly were not necessary.

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