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Quest is a 1996 animated short film directed by Tyron Montgomery.

It opens with a shot of a desert, with some brown clumps of sand visible next to an empty bottle. The clumps of sand move and reveal themselves to be a sandman, lying face down in the desert. The sandman starts scrabbling at the sand, and suddenly he falls through the sand, only to find himself in a different world, this one made of paper. It becomes apparent that the sandman is looking for water, as he goes after a puddle of water he finds in this paper world, only to fall through the paper and find himself in a world of stone. The sandman finds himself falling into world after world, as he continues on a desperate quest for the water he needs to maintain cohesion as a sandman.

Compare The Sand Castle, another award-winning animated short about an odd sandman creature.

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Tropes:

  • Book-Ends: The film starts with the sandman rising up out of the desert. It ends with him right back where he started.
  • Fight to Survive: It isn't spelled out, but it seems like the sandman is looking for water because he needs it to retain his form as a sandman.
  • Foreshadowing: Sand needs to be wet to clump up, right? There's an empty bottle right next to the sandman when he arises from the sand. Hm.
  • Golem: A sandman that appears to originate out of nowhere, until the ending reveals how he was created.
  • Medium Blending: Although most of the film is stop motion, the shots of liquid water that the sandman finds towards the end appear to be live-action.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue.
  • Nightmarish Factory: The last place the sandman finds himself is a rather vague but ominous factory with lots of drills and grinding gears and the like.
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  • The Quest: The sandman's hunt for water.
  • Sentient Sands: The main character is a small sand golem.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The sandman is crushed in the factory, and falls out as a stream of sand grains through a drain into the water. The water, it seems safe to presume, finds its way into a bottle, which is eventually poured out onto the beach. After all that, the sandman finds himself right back where he was, on the beach, looking for water.
  • Stop Motion: Photography of a puppet covered with sand.
  • Thirsty Desert: The sandman's first problem, as a sandman in the desert will presumably dissolve back into regular old sand when he dries out.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Eventually the poor sandman is crushed into powder by some sort of compactor in the Nightmarish Factory.
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