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Western Animation / The Hole

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The Hole is an animated short film (15 minutes) from 1962, directed by John Hubley and Faith Hubley.

Two construction workers (one of whom is voiced by famed jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie) are in a hole well below the streets of New York, jackhammering away. While they work they chat idly about things like buying health insurance and the nature of accidents. Eventually their conversation turns to the possibility of nuclear war. The two workers debate the possibility of an accident leading to the launching of nuclear missiles.

Not to be confused with a completely unrelated horror film. Over a decade later, Dizzy Gillespie would lend his voice to another Hubley short, Voyage to Next.


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Tropes:

  • Desolation Shot: The film ends with a shot of the city leveled by a nuclear attack. It's actually an Imagine Spot caused by the shock of hearing falling equipment, and the shot fades back to normal once the workers realize this.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the construction workers reads a newspaper that is filled with stories about nuclear weapons and Cold War tensions, foreshadowing the direction the conversation will take.
    • The film occasionally cuts to a piece of heavy machinery being hoisted up. It falls at the end with a loud noise, which the workers briefly mistake for a nuclear explosion.
  • No Ending: The workers' discussion is interrupted by a loud bang caused by heavy equipment being accidentally dropped from a great height, which makes them think that there has been a nuclear strike. Once they realize what had actually happened, they go back to work without saying a word.
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  • A Nuclear Error: Discussed Trope. The more skeptical worker says that science isn't infallible, and suggests that accidents could lead to a nuclear holocaust. The short includes animation of a gopher gnawing away at the power lines to the radar at a nuclear missile early warning radar station.
  • Salt and Pepper: One of the construction workers is black and one is white. This isn't stressed in the cartoon, but it's worth noting that the black worker is the one who's skeptical about the safety of nuclear weapons, while the white one is confident that sufficient safety measures are in place.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The workers chat aimlessly about things like buying insurance and dropping fancy dinner glasses before wandering onto the subject of nuclear war.
  • Speech-Centric Work: Nothing really happens; the whole cartoon is two construction workers having a long conversation.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A gopher digging through a radar station almost causes a nuclear launch. Whether it's actually happening or just an imagined scenario is left to interpretation.
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