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Western Animation / Grasshoppers

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Grasshoppers (Cavallette) is a 1990 animated short film (9 minutes) from Italy, directed by Bruno Bozzetto.

It is basically the history of the human race, or, more specifically, human conflict. A bolt of lightning from the sky ignites fire, and two cavemen fight over the heat and warmth from that fire. Conflict then cycles through millennia. In Egypt, worshippers of Anubis clash with sun-worshippers. The Roman Empire sends soldiers abroad and they bring plunder home. Kings of medieval Europe fight each other for control. The Crusades...the French and American Revolutions...Napoleon...World War II and the wars of the later 20th century...all come and go, with only one constant: that all the combatants die, and crumble to ash, and become fertilizer for the grass that grows and the grasshoppers that munch on the grass.


  • Arc Symbol: The cartoon repeatedly cuts back to shots of the patch of grass with bugs buzzing around. Empires rise and fall, armies are annihilated, and all becomes mulch for the grass.
  • Big Ball of Violence: How battles are shown
  • Bookends: The short begins and ends with shots of a patch of grass, with bugs buzzing about, against a black background.
  • The Discovery of Fire: Naturally, when lightning strikes the patch of grass and starts a fire, two cavemen fight over it.
  • Excrement Statement: A Mongol warrior pees on the Great Wall of China, before his men storm it.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Joan of Arc, who is burned at the stake.
    • The French king who gets guillotined is presumably Louis XVI.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Conflict in ancient Greece is shown by a young man playing a flute as a curvy woman (Helen of Troy, maybe?) dances. They kiss, then a king shows up and tries to claim the woman for his own. She scornfully rejects him and embraces the young man. The king then whips out a sword and lops both of their heads off.
  • In the Back: The exchange where the two kings keep pulling crowns off each other's heads, ends with one king taking an arrow in the back.
  • Mooning: Muslims moon the first Crusaders who attack them.
  • Silence Is Golden: Music, some gibberish talk, and thought balloons, but no dialogue.
  • Slouch of Villainy: After using the gold his army brought back to make an enormous golden throne, the Roman emperor lies sideways on it, his feet and head on the armrests.
  • Speaking Simlish: Heard often, like when the soldiers of the Roman Empire babble aggressive-sounding nonsense to the emperor before they go off and conquer.
  • Speech Bubbles: There is no dialogue but many of the characters in the rapidly-paced sequence towards the end are identified with speech bubbles and pictures. An aggressive American soldier is represented by a speech bubble with the Statue of Liberty inside, a Soviet soldier has a speech bubble with a hammer and sickle, and an Israeli soldier's speech bubble contains a Star of David.
  • Star Killing: Only symbolically. But when the worshipper of Anubis is interrupted by a sun-worshipper who points at the sun and starts yelling, the Anubis-worshipper fires an arrow at the sun, which shatters.
  • Visual Title Drop: The last shot zooms in on the patch of grass, revealing two grasshoppers, mating.