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Moto Perpetuo is a 1981 animated short film (7 1/2 minutes) from Hungary, directed by Bela Vajda. It was produced by Hungary's Pannonia Film Studio.

A man walks through the lobby of an office building. He attempts to board the elevator, but fails. It soon becomes apparent that the twin elevators—one going up on the left, one going down on the right—are not actual elevators, but windows on the human experience. As the man goggles with astonishment the whole range of human life and civilization plays out in the two elevators. People get married, trains careen off bridges, bicyclists race by, nuclear bombs go off, The Beatles play music, and more.

The title is the Italian for "perpetual motion", referring in this context to perpetuum mobile, a musical term referring to music played non-stop at a very fast tempo. The score for this short is a violin playing at just such a fast tempo.

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Tropes:

  • Brick Joke: One gag has a man standing still, next to a coat rack where his hat is hanging. When an identical coat rack passes by in the other elevator shaft, the man takes his hat off the rack, steps across the divide, and hangs his hat on the other rack. Later this joke is repeated in reverse, with the man crossing back in the opposite direction and hanging his hat back up where it was in the beginning.
  • Ear Trumpet: One sight gag has a reproduction of the iconic "His Master's Voice" painting of a dog listening to a gramophone record—except that the dog has an Ear Trumpet in his ear, basically using a trumpet to listen to a trumpet.
  • The Everyman: The man has little characterization, and basically is just there to react to all the bizarre and surreal things he sees in the elevators.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: The man sees a mostly naked lady in the elevator shaft. He eagerly jumps in, only to jump back out when a bunch of knives from a Knife-Throwing Act fly into the frame and stick in the background behind the woman.
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  • Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast: A man and a woman both appear dressed normally. The man then dresses up as a soldier. The woman then stips naked, turning her back and smiling coyly at the camera.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Multiple times, the man tries to get on one of the elevators, only to be thwarted. At the end, however, he's apparently invited. Two different attractive women gesture for him to get on the elevator. Then a guy dressed as a waiter, with a bottle of wine and a glass sitting on a chair, gesture for the man to get on the elevator. Instead, he waves his arms in a dismissive gesture, and leaves.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A scene where both shafts fill with water suddenly has The Beatles singing "Yellow Submarine" as a yellow submarine much like the one in the movie appears, and is eaten by a giant fish. This is followed by a picture of the Beatles altered to make them look old, which is followed by John Lennon's iconic photo from The White Album, with a sniper's scope superimposed (this was just a few months after Lennon's murder.)
    • A sequence regarding science and technology includes the famous picture of Buzz Aldrin on the moon, as well as drawings of Albert Einstein and Galileo.
  • Silence Is Golden: No dialogue in the film except for some Speaking Simlish nonsense.
  • Speaking Simlish: One scene has a gaggle of reporters jump off the elevator to interview the man. They speak in high-pitched gibberish, he answers in high-pitched gibberish, then the reporters leap back on the elevator and go away.
  • Split Screen: The two up-and-down elevator shafts actually function as a split screen, with different action going on in each. Sometimes they interact, like the two duellists who shoot each other as their elevator cars pass, or the man that hops from one side to another to hang his hat.
  • Surreal Humor: A nonstop parade of images that just should not be happening in an elevator—a secretary with a typewriter taking dictation from her boss, people sleeping in bed, a train on a bridge crossing a canyon, a plane flying around. And sometimes the images themself are surreal, like when a person with only a giant eye for a head meets a person with only a giant ear for a head.
  • Toilet Humor: One scene has a door labeled "W.C." pass by. The toilet flushes and a man walks out. Both of the man's arms are fully encased in casts.
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