While we may like to take pride in the value we place on freedom, there still remains an ever-present constraint: the looming sense of obligation we impose on ourselves. With students working obediently for the approval of their teachers and adults choosing jobs with greater concern for stability than for passion, there is an unspoken stigma surrounding the naivety of living freely. For a value otherwise praised, such liberty is instead labeled “reckless” or “lazy,” and a life of security, rather than pleasure, becomes the mark of one’s maturity. The animated short film “Alike” by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez questions just this. Following the story of a father, Copi, and his son, Paste, the animation successfully expresses the inexpressible and rationalizes the irrational. It argues for a life of uncertainty.
By no means does “Alike” overlook the risk in living spontaneously. The duty of the father to work an unfulfilling job to provide for his family, the duty of the father to take his son to school, the duty of the son to write his A-B-C’s and refrain from doodling—it’s all presented as a pity, but also as an inevitable truth. The norm of abiding by these expectations is a norm for a reason; it ensures a reliable future, a smoothly-running society, and ideally, eventual satisfaction. According to the animation, however, this conformity ultimately takes its toll, as evident in the fading vibrancy of the once-blue father and once-orange son.
However, with the father’s furrowed eyebrows and son’s dragging feet, the film arouses sympathy in viewers. You are sorry for the son and the standards placed on him so early on, but also for the father, because he, too, is stuck in his assigned role. You want for both of them to lose their monotony and escape the cycle of living for stability, and with this, you come to forget the rationality of such stability. Instead, you come to be drawn to the appeal of spontaneity, however temporary the joy may be.
This animation carefully uses color, music, and facial expressions to point to the illogical yet natural desire for a life of bliss, even if naive. It tugs at your sympathy and expresses the inexplicable yet irreplaceable satisfaction that comes with a chase for such joy. Though it’s careful to note the importance of structure for a functioning society, such logic is not given the esteem it’s used to. Instead, the animation more deeply explores what life would be like if in just one moment of your life, you let go of reason and traded the burden of sensibility for the liberation of childlike curiosity.