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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, 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.



  • Abhorrent Admirer: The first woman the man creates with his balloons is obese. He quickly deflates her.
  • Buxom Is Better: 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 drinks it. 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Widow's Weeds: The woman briefly pictures herself in these after the man goes into the ocean after the shark.