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Balance is a 1989 animated short film made in West Germany by twin brothers, Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein.

This peculiar little animated film features five identical-looking humanoid figures standing on a precariously balanced platform, which is suspended in some indefinite space. The platform tilts wildly whenever it's thrown off balance, which requires the five men to carefully coordinate their movements in order to balance the platform. Their only leisure activity is fishing off the sides of the platform.

Their careful equilibrium is ruined when one of the men fishing off the edge catches something. His catch is revealed to be a music box. The logical thing would be to put the music box in the center of the platform and let each of the men take turns listening. They don't do the logical thing.

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Tropes:

  • Allegory: There's a fairly obvious message about the need to cooperate.
  • Apple of Discord: When one of the men finds a music box, it doesn't take long for them to start fighting over it.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Long articulated skeleton fingers, in fact.
  • Didn't Think This Through: #23 leaves the music box as a counterweight in the opposite corner so he can go over and kick #51 off the platform to his death. Not until he does this does #23 realize that he can't get back to the music box on the other side and in fact can't even move from his spot, as doing so would tip the platform over.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: #23 is responsible for kicking three of his four companions off the platform (#77 loses his balance and falls), because he wanted the music box all to himself. He winds up dooming himself to be stuck on one edge of the platform, staring at the unattainable music box on the other side.
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  • Literal Cliffhanger: After three of the men have fallen off, #23 finds #51 clinging to the edge of the platform. #23 kicks him off.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Appropriate for a German cartoon, maybe. The humanoid figures are bald, they have great big black eyes, they were long trenchcoats, and they have creepy long skeleton fingers.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue.
  • Stop Motion: Puppets, and a platform which was made from a ping-pong table.
  • White Void Room: It isn't white, actually, but grayish. But in any event the five men and their platform are hanging in the middle of some sort of empty space.
  • You Are Number 6: The five figures are identical except for the backs of their gray coats, which have numbers: 23, 35, 51, 75, and 77.
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