The Lost Thing

The Lost Thing
Access fees

This clip is from The Lost Thing, which started as a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. The book was later adapted into a short film narrated by the multi-talented performer, Tim Minchin. It won an Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated) at the 2010 Academy Awards, held on 27 February 2011.

Set in a bleak Australian future, The Lost Thing is a story about a boy who enjoys collecting bottle tops. One day he discovers a very strange creature which the narrator refers to as 'The Lost Thing'

This clip illustrates the structured world of the film and creates a sense of isolation, particularly through the music at the beginning. Signs and instructions highlight the rigidity of the world the boy inhabits.

The story emphasises the importance of curiosity and compassion, as the boy and The Lost Thing move through a montage of the city looking for the right location. The Lost Thing is both an ally to the boy in this world and something to be looked after, akin to a younger sibling.

True to the style of Shaun Tan, many questions about The Lost Thing remain unanswered. The hulking shape and size of The Lost Thing is juxtaposed with its friendly, playful demeanour and the dainty bells that make it look vulnerable in such an indifferent world.

The tentacles and pincers are reminiscent of another sea creature – the hermit crab, which moves as it needs to inhabit larger shells. Is The Lost Thing a part of the big red teapot-like structure, or is it sheltered within?