Film Reflections: Thermostat 6

YouTube Video Title: Thermostat 6 – Animation Short Film 2018 – GOBELINS

Synopsis: “Diane can’t ignore anymore the leak coming from the ceiling above the family diner…”

I initially considered writing a review but I quickly realized that I have no expertise whatsoever in animation. So yes, as the title of this post indicates, this is an analysis.

Actually, it’s more accurately just the thoughts that crossed my mind as I watched the film, so I don’t really know if this counts as a proper “analysis,” but I digress.

This witty, four minute French animation comments on the absurdity of the lack of attention global warming and climate change has been receiving. It’s not subtle in its criticism, but it isn’t terribly direct either, as it utilizes the metaphor of a leak in a dining room ceiling. A girl, likely in her teens, decides that she can no longer ignore the droplets of water that continue to fall on her family as they eat dinner, and despite the indifference of her grandfather and parents, climbs on the table in a futile attempt to fix it.

The animation is, as previously mentioned, in French, so I largely depended on the closed captions to comprehend it. That being said, here are some of my favorite quotes and moments from the film and my takeaways from them–in English.

“Tell your husband he won’t touch the foundations of my house.”

This is what the grandfather tells his daughter (the wife) in response to the husband who suggests changing the wallpaper, claiming it is “too old-fashioned.” Clearly, this is alluding to the common remark by environmental activists that older generations too-often want things to stay the way they are, to stay traditional and constant even against simple suggestions for change.

This generalization is by no means true of all people of the older generation, but I do believe that the desire for an unchanging foundation is pretty typical of said people. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, to want to stay in touch with your roots and core values, but it also isn’t a great thing to stay static amidst an ever-changing environment.

I thought it was interesting, the way the film subtly commented that even though two generations may both remain indifferent regarding the leak and climate change, they still hold their respective differences given the gap in values and experience.

I also appreciated the clever use of “foundations” given the double meaning it holds, because through this brief clash about wallpapers, it made me realize the importance of understanding that the seemingly stubborn refusal of older generations to care less about climate change isn’t just because of the typical “they don’t care because they won’t be around when the Earth is in ruins.” It’s also because they were simply brought up in different contexts. Maybe they were taught to be compliant and viewed voicing their opinions as adolescents to be disrespectful. Maybe they had different things to worry about, such as financial stability, and couldn’t care so much about the environment when they were younger. I know that’s no excuse to remain indifferent given our current circumstances, but it’s still a key thing to consider when trying to persuade those that seem particularly reluctant to support environmental activism, and activism in general. You can’t just assume everyone else should have the same values as you, no matter how right you may be. It’s easy to be angry; the real fight is in honestly considering with others’ views.

“Well… I don’t want to end up with a leaking house!”

This is the reaction of Diane (the teenage girl) after the continual indifference of her family in regards to the leak. I feel like this is one of the primary reasons why the younger generation fights so much for action, and I’m glad that the film called attention to this. In the end, this is our future and our world at stake; how can we enjoy the present with that worry hanging over our heads?

However, as powerful this statement was, it was what followed that I found especially interesting.

  1. She climbs the dinner table to fix the leak on the ceiling. I really like how well the animation reflected the two stances regarding climate change through this moment. To most viewers, what seems to be a necessary and bold action is what to others is simply rudeness and disrespect. Because it is technically disrespectful, isn’t it? It is undeniably important to make your voice heard, but in a standard household, wouldn’t this radical action be viewed as immature? Again, this goes back to the importance of considering perspective. The girl views her family as foolish because of their indifference to this problem, and yet the family views the girl as foolish for her unusual actions. That’s what activism is–it’s going against the status quo.
  2. The mother exclaims, “You are ruining my table cloth!” This reinforces the issue of perspective. Yes, it seems absurd to us that the mother is worrying about the table cloth when it is literally raining on them because of the leak in their ceiling. Quite frankly, it is absurd. But to worry about the leak is an issue that has barely even crossed the mind of the mother. In her view, her primary concerns is to ensure everyone has a nice, calm dinner. So I guess the question is, how does someone get a person with such different concerns to care? Is it even possible?
  3. Judgment is tossed around, and it is concluded that “She is having her teenage moods!” I don’t know, is this an exaggeration? Do people actually chalk up activism as mood swings? Or maybe people don’t associate activism as mood swings, because maybe they don’t view it as activism. Maybe they view it as just an episode of rebellion. So how do you get people to take you seriously? Could Diane have done something different to make her actions more effective, to get her family to listen?
  4. The leak becomes a flood. Whose fault was this? The animation is almost definitely pointing to the adults because they should have helped her. They should have realized that leaving everything up to someone they keep viewing as a mere teenager certainly will not lead to very effective change. Change is possible, yes, but it likely won’t come too easily. This goes to show a bit of the desperation of most young individuals fighting for action against climate change. There’s only so much you can do yourself and half the battle really is just convincing others, particularly those with influence and power, to support you.

“The plumber will do the job, he knows what he does. We have to trust the professionals.”

This is following Diane’s continual attempts to stop the leak. Here, the animation suggests emphasizes the necessity to take action, regardless of age, regardless of experience. I assume by “professionals,” the creators were referring to other indifferent people, rather than true environmental professionals. And even then, even if “professionals” is in regard to scientists rather than shrugging politicians, it is necessary to take action. Because what if the lack of urgency means the “plumber” decides immediate action isn’t necessary? Isn’t it our duty to do all we can given the resources we’ve got? What about the bystander effect–what if leaving things off to the “professionals” results in everyone assuming everyone else will fix the problem, especially given the appeal putting something off for a “professional” to deal with has?

“Didn’t I teach you manners? You’re not dismissed before dessert!”

As the baby of the family is carried away by the flood of water, the mother carries a cake and makes this statement. During this scene, the baby, who represents the future, begins to flail his arms around and wail out in panic and fear. In doing so, the animation effectively captured the ridiculousness of such a moment. Here is a mother, whose son is swept away by the flood, and she cares about manners, about cake. This is followed by a cheerful “We finally have a pool!” by the father.

These reactions of the parents are likely meant to be viewed humorously, as they are quite clearly exaggerations. But what does that say about the frustration felt by those trying to be heard, trying to promote change? This is how ridiculous such indifference seems to them, and though they, too, must be seen as ridiculous by the indifferent, don’t they still deserve some consideration, some acknowledgement?

“Why did I touch these pipes?”

This moment was heartbreaking. The water was up to Diane’s chest and she was right next to the pipe, floating right beneath the ceiling of her flooded dining room. She lost her fire and held the pipe in defeat and hopelessness.

And yet, this moment was hopeful. The grandfather watched her sorrow and sympathized with her. In a wonderful metaphor, he let go of his newspaper, the newspaper he’d been holding since the very start of the animation, the newspaper with the words “Tout va bien” written on it. Tout va bien. Everything is fine.

This tranquil moment of hope is why this animation was so empowering. It revealed the core of activists, of why people fight for change. It’s not because they feel others are foolish, it’s not because they’re angry, it’s not because they want the attention. It’s because no matter how fruitless their passion may seem, no matter how much others may refuse to listen, this hope that maybe their actions will inspire someone to consider change is what they cling on to. It’s what you must cling on to.


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