Happiness, created by Steve Cutts, is a beautifully animated short film showing us, in various ways, the human condition in modern times. Using rats to literally represent the ‘rat race’, the film neatly, elegantly and concisely shows us how modernity makes us prisoners. From the 9-5 desk job (admittedly a lot less common now with post-COVID remote working a norm that has remained in the wake of the pandemic) to the grinding pursuit of happiness, perhaps more accurately described as dopamine thrills, we follow our rodent hero on his repetitive, sisyphean journey.
The film accurately portrays our daily bombardment with the flashing, addictive messages which surround us, whether advertising or social media, programmed by algorithms to gain maximum engagement, promising us fulfilment where there is in fact, emptiness (not to mention lighter wallets). Seeing the rodents on this treadmill of life (a hedonic treadmill perhaps, a phrase deriving from the concept of hedonic adaptation) reminds us of our own lives.
This film has many similarities with another gem on ShortFilmWeb – check out ‘El Empleo’ (The Employment) for another take on the pathos of the daily grind.