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Animation / Ersatz

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Ersatz (1961), aka Surogat, aka The Substitute, is an animated short film from the former Yugoslavia, produced by Zagreb Film and directed by Dušan Vukotić.

A pot-bellied man arrives at the beach for a day of leisure. He whips out a series of geometric shapes, and, using an airpump, blows them up into various objects, including things like a table, a tent, a grill, and a fish to catch. Things get weirder when he apparently decides he wants companionship, and blows up one of his balloons into a woman.

Ersatz was the first non-American cartoon to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. It can be watched here.


  • Abhorrent Admirer: The first woman the man creates with his balloons is obese. He quickly deflates her.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: The man blows up a balloon into his beautiful bikini woman. He takes a look at her after he's done, then grabs the air pump again and goes back to make her breasts bigger.
  • Deranged Animation: A highly stylized and unrealistic style that resembles nothing so much as one of Pablo Picasso's cubist paintings turned into a cartoon, with characters and objects that are really just a series of stylized triangles. Then there are the surreal gags throughout the film. The man can't get any drink out of his bottle—so he turns the bottle upside down and squeezes it like he was milking a cow. Then of course there's the man's ability to create anything, including a living woman, by blowing up balloons.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The man runs over a random nail while driving home. This pops both him and the world he lives in.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The woman dumps the man when she sees a muscular surfer.
  • Driven to Suicide: After the woman dies, the surfer kills himself by pulling out his plug.
  • The End: Shown in five different languages — Croatian, English, French, Russian and German. This was typical of cartoons from Zagreb Films.
  • Engineered Heroics: The man produces a shark to go after the woman so he can rescue her.
  • Gainax Ending: After deflating and putting everything away, the man then deflates the entire beach, which he apparently brought with him. Then he inflates a highway and drives off... until his car hits a nail on the road, which explodes everything. Nothing is left but the nail, which then chuckles mischievously.
  • If I Can't Have You…: After the man catches the woman having sex with the surfer, he kills her by deflating her.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: The man is constantly humming a song to himself, and the characters communicate in squeaks.
  • Muscle Beach Bum: The muscular surfer who steals the bikini woman away from the protagonist.
  • Threatening Shark: The man inflates one to scare the woman.
  • Widow's Weeds: The woman briefly pictures herself in these after the man goes into the ocean after the shark.