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Ident is a stop-motion animated short film from Aardman Animations that was released in 1990.

The short follows a day in the life of a relatively unremarkable man who has to navigate mundane adult activities through a literal maze. As he does so, he's forced to wear a series of masks to impress the people he regularly interacts with such as his wife, his boss and his friends.

Tropes

  • An Aesop: Society will expect you to be something you're not and take that for granted anyway, so don't try too hard to impress anyone.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Literally at first. After having his face forcefully painted to resemble a clown courtesy of his wife, before getting chewed out by his boss while wearing a clown mask, the man's face is transformed into something resembling both, but much less appealing.
    • Subverted towards the end, as the man deliberately makes himself look as clown-like as possible to please everyone at once. Once he realises nobody was paying attention anyway, he pulls the mask off and goes back to his regular self.
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  • Cartoon Juggling: When the man tries to impress everyone at once, he juggles a set of balls in such a way they form a circle.
  • Downer Ending: The man escapes the maze and encounters his doppelganger... only for him and his doppelganger to immediately start trying to make each other look like clowns again, showing that both of them have ultimately learned nothing.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The window in the maze is covered with a blind. When the blind retracts, the dog jumps through the window and reveals a whole new world outside the maze. The man then follows.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Life is hard and filled with thankless moments, but complete freedom doesn't guarantee happiness either.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The protagonist's dog would later be developed into Rex the Runt.
  • Henpecked Husband: First his wife makes him wear a clown mask, only to take it off and paint his face instead because she didn't want him wearing a mask she couldn't wear.
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  • Hypocrite: The protagonist is eventually revealed to be one, as he confronts his doppelganger and they try to make each other look like clowns.
  • Me's a Crowd: The short ends with the man escaping the maze and all the people in it. He's soon confronted by a mirror image of himself that he initially befriends, only to soon find annoying as it mimics his every movement. The two then start turning each other into clowns, just like the people around them.
  • Stepford Smiler: The man acts friendly and compliant with almost everyone because he's been conditioned to not show his true self. The first exception he shows is when is wife spews clown makeup onto his face, to which he growls in disapproval and skulks off. The second is when a total stranger comes up and starts chatting at him in an obxnoxious manner, to which he gives him a knock to the head.
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