The Big Snit
is a 1985 animated short directed by Richard Condie for the National Film Board Of Canada
. A husband and wife are playing Scrabble; as the husband obsessively re-shuffles the tiles on his rack (not that he can make many words with seven "E" tiles), the wife decides to do some vacuuming until he puts down a word. The husband takes advantage of her absence to watch his favourite television programme, Sawing for Teens
, and begins sawing along with the teens on the TV before dozing off, thereby missing an announcement that worldwide nuclear war has broken out, and the human race has just minutes to live.
However, when he wakes up, he gives in to temptation and looks at the letters on his wife's rack just as she returns to the room, and in a parallel to the conflict outside, the two begin arguing over various petty irritations until the wife runs out of the room in tears. It's up to the husband to find a way to restore peace between the couple, while he remains oblivious to the fact that the world outside has failed to resolve its own conflict.
The film was nominated for Best Animated Short at the 1986 Oscar ceremony, and is ranked at #25 on The 50 Greatest Cartoons
, the highest position both for a non-American cartoon and for a cartoon made after 1960.
It can be watched on the NFB's official YouTube channel.
The Big Snit contains examples of the following tropes:
- Apocalypse How: A worldwide nuclear war makes this a Planetary apocalypse, with the destruction landing somewhere between Species Extinction and Total Extinction.
- Blatant Lies: The wife yells at the husband for sawing the table as part of his obsession with sawing. Even though he is doing so as she speaks, he still shouts back, "I AM NOT SAWING THE TABLE!"
- Eye Glasses: The wife can actually remove her eyes from her face as if they were a pair of glasses, and frequently does so to shake them when she gets cross-eyed. It has apparently always grated on the husband's nerves, as this is his first point of attack when she complains about his having looked at her Scrabble tiles.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- The husband is fast asleep when the nuclear war is announced on the television, and only wakes up when the cat chews through the cord. He looks out of the window at the screaming masses in the streets, and... concludes that they must be there for some sort of parade. He gives the scene no further thought.
- At the end of the short, the husband and wife somehow do not notice that they have been killed in a nuclear explosion and gone to Heaven, in spite of the very otherworldly scene stretching before them. The husband simply remarks that on days like this, he doesn't feel like doing much of anything, and suggests that he and his wife finish their Scrabble game.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- The scenes of panic in the streets after imminent nuclear destruction is announced are packed with visual gags, some of which only last a few frames. These include a motorcycle driving over the cars on the road, a car seemingly being driven by a pack of dogs, a man in a turtle-drawn chariot, a telephone box being pushed along in front of a car, a man in just the back half of a car holding onto the fender of the car in front of him, a car somehow driving while upside-down, Noah's Ark (on the road, no less), a man sleeping peacefully in his bed somehow keeping pace with the cars around him, a steam engine, and a man on a hostess trolley.
- The high altitude shot of nuclear missiles flying all over the world includes a shot of Santa Claus and his sleigh and reindeer - complete with jingle bells.
- When the bombs hit, sending the couple (and their cat and parrot) to Heaven immediately, a collection of Scrabble tiles reading "HOTEL 10 KM" floats on screen for a few frames.
- Heart Symbol: The husband and wife are surrounded by heart symbols, and even have them in their eyes, when they reconcile after their argument.
- Line Boil: Like many 1980s animated shorts, the characters are drawn in a "line boil" style, their wobbly lines contrasting with the more stable background.
- Major Injury Underreaction: The newsreader who interrupts Sawing for Teens to announce that worldwide nuclear war has broken out has already had the flesh flayed from his bones, leaving nothing but a skeleton in a suit. This does not stop him from maintaining his professional diction and demeanour to inform the public of the (useless) safety precautions they should take - even when his skull falls off his neck and onto the desk.
- No Name Given: We are given no indication whatever of the names of the main couple; even they never address each other by name.
- Nuclear Option: We never learn why the nations of the world have been fighting, but things have apparently deteriorated to the point that they have decided nukes are the only way forward.
- Retraux Flashback: When his wife has left the room in tears after their argument boils over, the husband sees a photograph of the two of them at "Expo 1957", and the picture comes to life to show how happy the couple were as newlyweds, but in more washed-out colour than the rest of the short to fit the faded colours of the picture.