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Western Animation / Life in a Tin

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Taking the phrase "Exactly What It Says on the Tin" to a whole 'nother level.

Life in a Tin (Una Vita in Scatola) is a 1967 Italian animated short film by Bruno Bozzetto.

It chronicles the life of an Average Joe from his birth to his death. The protagonist is seen visualising his world in beautiful colours in several instances, expressing amazement at the world around him, only to be brought back down by the harsh reminders of his daily routine, again and again. As a result, he ends up living his life in tin-coloured squares or boxes. "A life in a tin", so to speak.

No spoilers for this work, but if you have 6 minutes to spare, you can watch the whole thing here, uploaded by the creator himself on his YouTube channel.

Provides examples of:

  • Babies Ever After: Deconstructed. The man eventually gets married and starts a family, but he ends up neglecting both his wife and child just to go back to work. This results in a Downer Ending instead.
  • Cradle To Grave Character: The protagonist's existence is first indicated by his mother's pregnant belly before being born (off-screen) at a hospital, followed by his childhood and stress-filled years as an adult, culminating in his premature end.
  • Downer Ending: It's bad enough that the man dies, but it's outwardly implied that working a 9-to-5 job everyday without a break eventually catches up with him, and he ends up dying from stress and overwork. The last shot is of his grave, whilst the colourful world remains in motion, having never lived life to the fullest.
  • The Everyman: The protagonist, meant to be as a stand-in for the average working person.
  • Fatal Flaw: The man's workaholic tendencies. When given the chance to take a day off and spend time with his child, he doesn't relent. It ends up killing him.
  • Hope Spot: The man is off to work when he stops upon hearing the baby's cries in his wife's arms. The man smiles, his vivid worldview returns...and then the work siren snaps him out of it, and goes back to work once more.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: As a young boy, the protagonist sees the sky, trees, and flowers in colourful patterns on his way to school, with his eyes turning a bright blue, symbolising his wonder at the world. Unfortunately, his mother chides him for dawdling, and he begrudgingly starts walking to school.
  • Leitmotif: The reocurring trumpet and vocal melody accompanying the protagonist every time he begins seeing the world in colourful images.
  • Life Will Kill You: The protagonist eventually suffers this fate after working non-stop for who knows how many years.
  • Living Is More than Surviving: The man fails to experience the true meaning of life due to his obligations preventing him to do so, and that there is more to life than just getting by.
  • Nameless Narrative: No one in this short has a name, all the better for viewers to insert themselves in the story.
  • Slice of Life: Perhaps the most cynical take on the concept, starting from the birth of the protagonist to his untimely demise, having lived a life of mediocrity until the very end.
  • Speaking Simlish: Everyone speaks in pitch-shifted gibberish, with no discernible spoken language to be heard.
  • The End: The film is capped off with a "Fine" ("End") title card.
  • This Loser Is You: A chillingly realistic version. The protagonist is not shown anything less than a loser or a winner; having gone to school then university, falling in love then getting married, getting a job and even having a baby of his own only to go to work again. It's all to drive home the point how living a life of constant commitments is not fulfilling.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: What little we see of the protagonist's parents, the mother is tall and thin while the father is so short, he only reaches up to his wife's buttocks. Despite this, he's strong enough to carry her, whether pregnant or with a baby in her arms.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The mother telling off the protagonist for getting late to school is the catalyst for the protagonist's mundane way of life, which ends up with him having never lived outside the box beyond the occasional daydreams.
  • Workaholic: The main character. Once he reaches adulthood, he only lives to work day in, day out.

Alternative Title(s): Una Vita In Scatola