Director: Alan Barillaro
Spoilers Within: Yes
Since people starting taking note of Pixar’s ability to wring emotion from fascinatingly literal ‘what ifs…’ (a sad cloud discovers happiness! night and day become corporeal! modernity and Hinduism explode in colour!) into 5 minute shorts, their ingenuity became more and more noticeable and often proved to be more complete and voraciously heartwarming than the films they preceded (incontestable, in some cases).
As a first time director and writer for Pixar, Alan Barillaro (who has had a generous career with the studio as a co- and lead- animator) has painstakingly created an absolutely gorgeous tale of a baby sandpiper overcoming its fear of water and making a few little friends along the way. The plot is thin as the spumes that buffet the flock of sandpipers and hermit crabs, but that isn’t so important where character and understanding of one’s environment is delivered in such a charmingly succinct way: subtle, nervous chirps or drenched fluttering manage to relay the majority of development in its brisk running time.
Not only is it warmly sweet, it’s also exceedingly cute. Impressively detailed (again, Pixar’s water effects are astonishing), but it’s Piper’s sodden plumage and little bursts of sand bubbles that left my mouth agape and my eyes watery with joy. No matter the film it was attached to, Piper stands out as yet another fantastic, self-contained film, and I can’t wait to see these titans of animation utilise this kind of hyperreal naturalism in a full-length feature.