Tragic Story with Happy Ending is a French seven minute animated short. Since it has voiceover narration, it doesn’t need subtitles. They just have a narrator speaking English (presumably replacing the French narration of the original version).
It’s a vague, allegorical tale probably open to multiple interpretations. I liked it more than I would typically like that kind of obscure story. Not saying I wouldn’t have liked it even more if I were clearer on what it was getting at, but the animation is inventive and visually pleasing, and the story itself has an uplifting feel to it emotionally even if cognitively I only sort of got it.
It’s just something that put me in a good frame of mind.
It’s the story of a girl whose heart beats faster and louder than normal. Without meaning to, she disturbs the people around her with the beating noise. She becomes self-conscious about her heart and the guff she takes from people, and she withdraws into herself.
Over time, people get used to her heart as just another background noise and stop treating her different. She gradually becomes more confident and feels better about herself. She feels a certain kinship with birds, and speculates that her heart is somehow a bird’s heart, since they tend to have faster-beating hearts. Ultimately she sprouts wings and flies straight up into the air and out of sight.
The narrator intones that no one knew if that meant she had died, or had started a life in some new form, but that at some level they envied her. And you see the other people going through their daily routines, sighing and not very happy.
My first thought was that the movie had to do with people who are naturally more compassionate, more morally minded, and how the more you stand out by doing and saying things that indicate you care about issues deeply and value what’s right, the more it can make people around you feel uncomfortable and judged and resentful. So there’s a social pressure not to speak out about injustice and human suffering and such, but just to keep your mouth shut and go along to get along.
But then over time people kind of get used to you being a more moral type of person, and whether they respect it or not, at least they accept it and you don’t get as much grief for it, and it maybe doesn’t take quite as much courage to speak up and act on your values.
So the lesson would perhaps be something like that you should embrace your caring side, your big-hearted side, and to not be afraid to push forward and do what you think is right just because there’s some social backlash due to being perceived as uncool or preachy or whatever, since for one thing those reactions may be superficial and temporary anyway, and it would be a tragedy to aim low and suppress your goodness just because of how other people (who don’t have as pure a heart) react.
My guess is that overlaps some with the intended message, but probably isn’t really what the filmmaker had in mind. Maybe it’s more of a general exhortation to people, especially girls, to follow your dreams and not let other people damage your self-esteem, because they’re mostly leading pitiful, boring lives that they don’t have the courage to change anyway, so they aren’t folks to emulate.
In any case, there’s a nice feel to Tragic Story with Happy Ending. I’d rank it maybe a little above average compared to the shorts I’ve written about so far.