Grasshoppers (1990)

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Grasshoppers accomplishes a great deal in its ten minutes, detailing as it does the entire history of warfare since the beginning of mankind. A rather daunting task, and one that could easily go wrong, becoming either unbearably pretentious or annoyingly preachy. It is to Grasshoppers' credit that the end result is instead engaging and amusing. Creator Bruno Bozzetto follows a set format. Man goes to war, wreaking havoc and causing death, after which the corpses decay, allowing grass to grow and insects to peacefully exist until the next war. Because of its short length, this repetition never gets boring and instead brings home the film's point quite clearly. Bozzetto has also imaginatively come up with a surprising number of variations on this theme and ensures that unexpected moments pop up to keep the viewer entertained. For example, the horns of war never create the same sound twice, and the nationalities keep changing in each episode. Bozzetto does an excellent job of presenting each nationality in visual terms, so that the absence of subtitles or intelligible dialogue does not prevent the viewer from knowing just who is who. And, of course, Bozzetto's unique character design and style of animation is a joy. Grasshoppers is a simple little cartoon that packs a big punch.