Pixar Animators’ ‘Borrowed Time’…Anti-Gun?


“Pixar animators Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj’s brilliant short film has been racking up accolades on the festival circuit,” dailydot.com reports. “Borrowed Time captures a lonely sheriff as he stares down the barrel of a painful memory from his past.” Stares down the barrel. Geddit? SPOILER ALERT . . .

Borrowed time (click image above to view the the 6:44 short) is based on a negligent discharge. Does that make this animated short anti-gun? I’d say yes, based both on the film itself and the aforementioned accolades. (If you think a pro-gun animated movie would become the darling of the high fallutin’ popcorn-munching set you’re not playing with a full deck.) Still, that’s the first time I’ve seen splatted blood in a Pixar-ish movie. Can’t wait for the Bambi remake.


  1. avatar WadeAK says:

    I didn’t see any anti-gun message in there. I saw a film about letting go of regret, forgiveness of ones self, and not letting the past define you.

    I think at some points we are just as bad as the anti crowd about reading too much into things.

    You get what you want out of stories.

    1. avatar DaveW says:

      Admittedly, I have not seen it, however, I think there is a difference between the views an adult gets from such a movie, and what a child will get. How many kids understand the concepts of don’t let the past define you, etc,? Not many from the courses I took in instruction training and early childhood education.

      If I talked to my kids after watching a movie, they assuredly got different ideas than mine because they lack the life experiences needed for comparisons.

      I do agree that our side can be misguided in what we read into and what we get out of a story line. Come to think of it, the same is true between two adults of similar experience, as well as between men and women. Humans process things in different ways at different times in their life.

      That said, I would not trust bleeding heart liberals who create movies to influence the thinking of the young to change their spots. Can you imagine Michael Moore producing a film to promote the 2nd Amendment?

      1. avatar Vhyrus says:

        If you watch the making of video they explicitly state that they were making a movie for adults, not children. They wanted to prove that animation is viable as an adult medium exploring adult themes. Have these guys never heard of anime?

        1. avatar Tommycat says:

          Or the movie Heavy Metal?

        2. avatar 16V says:

          Heavy Metal is a great in almost the way the original Twilight Zone series is.

      2. avatar California Richard says:

        Meh…. The moral I got from this movie is: a rifle is used to shoot badguys, not for pulling people up from the edge of a cliff….. i dont think its any more anti gun than any number of other westerns where similar things happen…… go watch “how to train your dragon 2”. They frame the pro-gun (pro-dragon) argument rather well. My kids can make those arguments and they arent even tweens yet.

      3. avatar mig says:

        “Can you imagine Michael Moore producing a film to promote the 2nd Amendment?”

        Considering the movies that he has made in the past, I have to say that if you could get him on board with making an actual Pro-2A movie, it would probably be pretty darned good at getting people on board with the Pro-2A agenda. I don’t like the man, and I don’t really approve of his tactics (should I call them outright lies?), but I have to admit that he does a pretty good job of getting people talking about whatever it is that he wants them to talk about.

      4. avatar Supermike says:

        Both very thoughtful responses (DaveW & WadeAK)… high praise.

    2. avatar Tommycat says:

      I just watched it.
      I think Wade is right here. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      It didn’t strike me as an anti-firearm short film. If anything it teaches what we always say. Rule 1 All firearms are always loaded, Rule 2 never let the muzzle cover anything you don’t want destroyed Rule 3 booger hook off the bang switch.

      But the story itself has nothing to do with all of that. It’s about regret and what happens when you let yourself be consumed by a bad decision from your past. It’s about needing to finally find a way to forgive yourself.

    3. avatar Charlie Mike says:

      I see no anti gun message at all.

      What I do see is a thinly veiled public service message to not wear cowboy boots while rock climbing on sandstone. With a secondary message of not letting a kid drive a stagecoach especially during a gunfight.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    It was entertaining in an emotional masochistic sort of way – for those that like such a thing. Certainly not worth deriving legislation from.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      Unlike Die Hard 2.

      1. avatar Chief Master says:

        Watch out for that Glock 7

  3. avatar William says:

    I don’t think so.

  4. avatar Reggie Browning says:

    Nah. I don’t see anything particularly anti-gun in this. The circumstances in the short were hardly anything that the average person finds themselves in, and in fact, they probably didn’t even make a bad choice using the gun. I think I think the focus is just on the emotions rather than the dangers of guns.

    On a side note, why does Pixar tend to make the main character’s dad a huge guy with a tree trunk sized neck, and the main character grow up to be scrawny?

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      More interesting to me (and no, I did not find it particularly anti-gun) since the animators are obviously excellent artists why do they always seem to find it necessary to portray their characters as grotesque caricatures of real humans? (Unless they are cute little babies.)

      1. avatar Tim says:

        I read an interview with a pixar animator years ago who said they didn’t like to create characters that looked completely realistic because it actually made the emotions of the films stronger. When the characters looked less human their target audience (usually kids and their parents) were more involved in the emotions of the stories because we focused on the actions and not on the actors. I could understand that somewhat.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Also, there’s the Uncanny Valley effect — things that are *thisclose* to human but just don’t look right are incredibly creepy. With a more cartoonish rendering like this, you don’t get distracted and potentially creeped out by all the things that aren’t quite right.

        2. avatar barnbwt says:

          Heavily impressionistic beings (i.e. anthropomorphized animals) also don’t require nearly as much detail to look ‘right,’ even far away from the Uncanny Valley. No one cares exactly where Bugs’ whiskers poke out or at what angle, and his arm/leg geometry isn’t really bound by any rules –made animation much cheaper back in the old days, than say Snow White, whose human proportions & movements had to be maintained within a much tighter band due to heightened human perception of a familiar form. Rotoscoping was an attempted shortcut, but isn’t quite good enough and really gets into the Uncanny Valley at times.

          It’s ironic that this still holds true even with all the crazy computer rendering power we have today; The Incredibles had every last hair modeled as an independent physics body and every texture photo-realistic, yet every character in the film is a highly stylized blob shape suitable for a newspaper comic (which it turns out, is exactly how real humans prefer their animated characters, I guess)

      2. avatar cmac890 says:

        Adding to what Tim said, creating realistic humans in cgi form is also very difficult, and in Pixar’s early stages, was prohibitively expensive (ever wonder why Andy in Toy Story doesnt have a dad?). I’m sure Pixar realized early on that focusing on the storytelling and not how fast they could bankrupt themselves was the key to success.

        1. avatar barnbwt says:

          I always figured he got tired of stepping on toys and left for good.

      3. avatar Tommycat says:

        And another thing:
        CGI capabilities have increased a great deal since Toy Story, but looking back at it after 21 years, it doesn’t feel dated. HOWEVER 1995 “realistic humans” look very dated.

    2. avatar anonymoose says:

      This is a prime example of why you decock the hammer on a lever-action or revolver before you reholster or sling it. Lever-actions are almost always single-action, and they didn’t have manual safeties until like the 1960s, so it wouldn’t have gone off if he had done that. The only anti-gun argument here would also have to entail the dad fighting off the bandit with a blunt stick instead of a rifle.

      1. avatar Sian says:

        To be totally fair, he was in the middle of a gunfight on a crashing stagecoach.

        Not decocking the hammer is an understandable oversight.

      2. avatar Vhyrus says:

        Most interestingly, if you look at 3:09 you can clearly see it IS decocked, so either the movement of his hand backwards during the struggle cocked it or the animators made a pretty big cock up.

        1. avatar barnbwt says:

          Smart money on the cock-up cocking…

      3. avatar SouthernPhantom says:

        1983, in the case of Marlins. Always buy pre-83, JM-stamped.

  5. avatar Alan Esworthy says:

    I don’t see any particular anti-gun component to this sad little story which I have no interest in watching again. If art is the selective re-creation of some aspect of reality as seen though the artist’s moral and aesthetic values, then the artists here are not people I’d want to have a beer with.

    Side note: I wouldn’t characterize this as a negligent discharge, but rather a rare instance of an accidental discharge.

  6. avatar Rick says:

    Is that what they mean by “fuck up, move up”

  7. avatar DaveWI says:

    Lighten up, Francis. This film is stunning. People see different things in stories, but this was not about gun control. He isn’t going to throw himself off the cliff because the gun killed his father, he is suicidal because *he* killed his father. The film is about forgiveness, closure, and pain. It is a simple story told extremely well.

  8. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    Isn’t this the same group owned by Disney…The folks who are taking on the future sequels to sci-fi warfare movie STAR WARS (re: scifi combat with blaster sidarms, and Lightsabers ?!)-, Or Marvel Comics: The Avengers, or The Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2…….Nah, if they were anti gun….They wouldn’t be doing those movies right…..?

  9. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

    I just watched the short, and, in my opinion, if you’re seeing anti-gun animus, you’re reading too much into it, or projecting your own personal bias on it.

    I agree with the comment Alan Esworthy posted earlier, the scene depicts an actual accidental discharge, not a negligent discharge.

  10. avatar cmac890 says:

    I have to admit, its not a very good film. I think, Mr. Farago is spot on that its accolades come from demonizing guns as tools of death, although there wasnt enough of a story to say whather the whole thing was anti-gun agitprop.

  11. avatar Gaheiras says:

    Did anyone else notice that the rifle isn’t cocked? When I saw that I thought that’s good that way he won’t shoot him, but the evil gun managed to fire anyway.

    1. avatar c4v3man says:

      From what I recall watching the film only once, the son shifted his grip near the end of the struggle, and his hand was slipping on the action. Such a tight grip slipping from the center of the action to the buttstock could conceivably cock the rifle. Honestly I thought it was decent attention to detail.

      Am I going to remember this short film forever… no. Honestly I thought the wife death from Up was more heart-wrenching, and is haunting even hearing the song alone. This did make you feel sorry for the son, but didn’t really have me reaching for the kleenex. That being said I went into the film a skeptic expecting an anti-gun message, so that probably influenced my ability to be really drawn into it. It didn’t seem openly anti–gun, although they could have made the film a little more neutral by actually showing the father shooting a bandit in self-defense, protecting his son. I take it as something that was implied and just not shown…

  12. avatar StuckinMaryland says:

    I think everyone’s problem with this short film is actually with the general trend of how firearms are treated in the mass media.

    There are not enough firearms represented in the mass media as tools for good. I think that’s why a lot of folks see something like this and think it just adds to the pile of tragedies shown as a result of the very presence of firearms.

    I agree that there is not enough in this film itself to understand whether or not the intention of the filmmakers was to demonize firearms.

    I watch a lot of really great short animated films. I just didn’t think this was one of them. It felt boring. I’m happy that other people could get something out of it, I just couldn’t.

    I compare this to a wonderful student film from many years ago that it is actually very moving. It is just over three minutes and it is worth it.


  13. avatar Christopher says:

    I couldn’t get Vimeo to work. The video is also available here on YouTube:

  14. avatar Advocate says:

    The creators are pretty clear about what they were doing in this clip.

    They wanted to explore forgiveness and using dark themes in animation.

  15. avatar Will says:

    Yea, I don’t consider this anti-gun at all.

    “Christmas Story”, that’s anti-gun. But not this.

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