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Das Rad ("The Wheel"), aka "Rocks", is a 2002 animated short film from Germany, directed by Chris Stenner, Arvid Uibel, and Heidi Wittlinger.

Two sentient rock piles sit on a hilltop somewhere, presumably in Germany, looking down into a valley. They aimlessly chat about minor concerns; the larger rock pile complains about the moss and lichen that grow on his back. Moss and lichen that grow on his back at lightning speed, as it turns out, suddenly reappearing after the larger pile scrapes them off. Trees shoot up out of the ground almost instantly, while the grass and moss on the ground waxes and wanes like tide on a beach. When the smaller rock pile picks up a wooden wheel, it crumbles into dust as he looks at it.

It soon becomes obvious that the story is being told in geologic time, the "lifespan" of a rock, with presumably tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years passing in moments as the two rock piles sit and chat. The time frame slows down radically on a couple of occasions, however, when members of short-lived life form Homo sapiens stop near by the rocks.

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Tropes:

  • After the End: Not that the rocks have any reason to care. But something caused the end of the human race, as the grand city that rises up in the valley collapses away to nothingness.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Two talking, sentient piles of rocks.
  • Irony: The billboard that's posted on the road right next to the rocks tumbles down into the dirt. The message on the billboard was "built to last".
  • Noodle Incident
    • What caused the destruction of humanity? The rocks don't know and neither do we. But they're relieved that the blur of activity that caused the roads and buildings to advance right up to them has ceased.
    • What was the light shining out of the skyscraper window? A last survivor, signaling for other humans?
  • Time Abyss: The rocks will be there forever. They were there before humans, and they are there after we're all gone.
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  • Time Dissonance: The rocks experience time on a different scale. For them, all activity of living things is blindingly fast, with trees popping up out of nowhere and human activity being an incomprehensible blur. On the occasions where the time frame slows down to human speed, the rocks are nothing but rocks, their motion and conversation way too slow for humanity to perceive.
  • We Are as Mayflies: The brief, transitory existence of human beings stands in dramatic contrast to the timelessness of the rocks.
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