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Western Animation / Screen Play

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Screen Play is a 1992 British animated short directed by Barry Purves.

Screen Play is a Stop Motion retelling of the Willow pattern story, with a change in setting from China to Japan. It revolves around the forbidden love between Takako, a daughter of nobility, and Naoki, a humble gardener. As Takako and Naoki's love grows, Takako's father Eishiro plans to break up the romance and marry her off with a samurai.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but lost to Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase.


  • Arranged Marriage: Eishiro forces Takako to marry the Samurai after he banished Naoki. She escapes, but not forever.
  • Downer Ending: Naoki and the storyteller are murdered and Takako kills herself, though at the very least, the couple are reincarnated as pidgeons, not to mention Eishiro and the Samurai are dead as well.
  • Driven to Suicide: With Naoki dead, Takako commits seppuku with the Samurai's sword.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: By the end of the film, pretty much everyone is dead, with the maid being the only mentioned character not shown dying.
  • Foreshadowing: The Samurai is only represented by a picture - until he breaks through said picture.
  • If I Can't Have You…: The Samurai kills Naoki and the storyteller before trying to do the same to Takako. She saves herself, but not for long.
  • Karmic Death: Eishiro drowns chasing after Naoki and Takako, while the Samurai is killed by Takako with his own sword.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: Takako dispatches the Samurai by stabbing him in the neck with his own sword.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Naoki is fully exposed as he makes love to Takako - and also when she cradles his lifeless body.
  • Off with His Head!: How the Samurai kills the storyteller.
  • The Oner: Most of the film is a single shot, as if it were a stage play, until the Samurai pops in.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Much like in the original story, the film revolves around the love between a noble and a vagabond. True to the trope, it doesn't end well.
  • Wham Shot: The appearance of the Samurai. Bonus points for being the first true shot change in the entire film.