Disney's Academy Awards-nominated short film "Paperman" has been circulating the web the past few days (over 5 million views since it was posted on YouTube on Tuesday). The film poignantly illustrates missed connections often felt in cities.
Take the opening scene. A man, dressed in a simple suit-and-tie, stands on a subway train platform with the absent, mind-somewhere-else expression of the daily commuter. His stupor is broken by a woman (strangely sans-briefcase) on the platform. He looks away for a second, and she disappears. Missed connection.
Despite what we like to believe, that is usually the end of city-spark fairy tales. The density of cities makes the odds of running into that insta-flame again unlikely (unless, of course, you both live near that stop and have precise-to-the-minute daily schedules, which is again unlikely).
But then, in a Rear Window moment, he spots the girl from across the street, in another high-rise. His office is without computers, so he resorts to the next best thing: paper airplanes. In the age of the internet, this seems at once quaint and utterly romantic.
His plan fails, but then Disney's magic takes over. It's a sweet story. But despite the happy ending, it leaves with the sense that without a deus ex machina intervention, missed connections in cities will remain as such. It's a bit of tragedy in the love story.
Watch the short, below, posted on YouTube: