The Lost Thing (2010)

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Released 10-Nov-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Audio Commentary-Director/Writer Shaun Tan
Audio Commentary-Director Andrew Ruhemann
Booklet-What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?
Deleted Scenes-(6.22)
Featurette-Making Of-Creating Utopia (8.38)
Interviews-Crew-Shaun Tan (24.28)
Storyboards-Production Art
Featurette-Making Of-Animating the Lost Thing
DVD-ROM Extras-Study Guide
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 15:00 (Case: 60)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Andrew Ruhemann
Shaun Tan

Madman Entertainment
Starring Shaun Tan
Tim Minchin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Michael Yezerski
Leo Baker
Bart Bee

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Today is The Tomorrow You Were Promised Yesterday

     The Lost Thing is an Australian short animated film that has been nominated for an Academy Award. In receiving that honour it joins illustrious company - Harvey Krumpet (which won) and The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (which didn't). Add to that list of triumphs the marvellous Cat Piano, which ought to have received a nomination, and you can see that animation is alive and well in Australia. Hopefully the nomination might spur the inquisitive to watch or buy this wonderful little film. The set from Madman Entertainment is wonderfully packaged, including a hardback book, and contains a wealth of extras but there is no getting over the fact that the film is less than 15 minutes long. Maybe an enterprising thinker should gather a series of Australian animated classics and put them on one Blu-ray!

     The book on which the film is based, by storywriter, illustrator Shaun Tan is as immediate as it is thought-provoking. Tan is not one to explain his stories hence the reason why the lovingly illustrated picture book is studied at High School level. Although adaptation jitters are hardly a concern for such a short work, fans of the book can rest assured that Tan and co-director Andrew Ruhemann have created a visual experience that is the equivalent of the book, retaining the quirky style and charm and leaving the ponderables ponderable.

     The Lost Thing tells the story, narrated by a perfectly dry Tim Minchin, of a boy who whilst out looking for bottle tops for his collection comes upon a "lost thing". The "thing" is a big red, teapot-y, spider-ey, steam-punk-y object, with a living soul. The boy plays with it at the beach all day and then, when it comes time to go home, he takes it with him, concluding that it must be lost. No-one seems to know about the lost thing and no-one is particularly interested in finding it a home. The boy lives in a dystopian future, a cross between 1984 and Brazil, where oppressive Government departments are riddled with bureaucracy (unlike now!) and signs and mottos, like the one above, are everywhere. Eventually, he is given a strange symbol on a card leading him to a place that just might be the lost things' home.

     Fifteen minutes is plenty of time to tell this delicate story. As said, Minchin is perfect for the voice-over as he captures the boy’s matter-of-fact tones. The animation is beautiful and aptly conveys the images from the book. There is something haunting about this experience and fans of the book should snap it up.

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Transfer Quality


     It is perhaps no surprise that The Lost Thing receives an excellent DVD transfer. Leaving aside the extras, which extend to a further 45 minutes, it was a pleasant surprise that the film came on a dual layered DVD.

     The film comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer which is 16x9 enhanced. The colours in the film are beautiful and well conveyed. The picture is sharp. The hand painted backdrops combine well with the CGI creatures. There are no technical problems at all.

     There are surprisingly only French subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The Lost Thing has two Dolby Digital soundtracks both English - a 5.1 running at 448Kb/s and a 2.0 running at 224Kb/s. Word of warning - the 5.1 track must be selected from the menu otherwise the film defaults to the 2.0 track. That's odd.

     The narration of Minchin can be heard clearly. Experienced Australian composer Michael Yezerski provides a nice score for the film.

     The film works fine in 2.0 but the extra bitrate gives greater depth to the music and the effects including the tinkling bells of the lost thing. The sub-woofer is used only occasionally, for the rumbling of the trams, but there is one thump towards the end of the film that is pretty convincing.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are a bunch of extras on this DVD. It comes in a beautiful slipcase including a DVD sized hardback book.

What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?

     In order to identify the lost thing the boys' friend Pete pulls out a book titled What Miscellaneous Abnormality is That?. It doesn't work. Watching the film again I noticed that the boy had a copy in his duffel bag. The hardcover short book consists of sepia sketches of some of the creatures, other lost things, from the film. So if you have ever wanted to know what a "symbiotic passenger-pear" is you will find it here!

Commentary Track : Shaun Tan

     Tan takes us through the plot of the film, adding personal tid-bits at the inspiration for the characters including the autobiographical elements.

Commentary Track : Andrew Ruhemann

     The co-director presents a more technical track identifying compositional ideas and production details.

Interview with Shaun Tan (24:28)

     This is the longest feature on the DVD. Tan takes us through the process of the creation of the book and the film, including his desire to have the animation look like puppets and the use of painted backdrops. He also lets us in on his artistic homages throughout the book and film. Tan is an excellent speaker and this is an interesting feature. He tells of his love for stories that don't have an immediate and obvious meaning.

Creating 'Utopia'(8:38)

     This featurette is separated into "Vision and "Sound". The former looks at the transition from the book, through storyboard, digital modelling, previsualization and 3D modelling, animation and digital texturing. The Sound section takes us through the final sequence from the film allowing us to hear the incredibly complex sound design, then introduces an alternative score for the scene.

Animating the Lost Thing(1:59)

     One for the techies as it shows how individual moments in the film were animated. This is mostly wire-frame animation.

Deleted Scenes (6:22)

     Shaun Tan takes us through two deleted scenes although one is about 6 minutes and the other only brief. The larger sequence takes place in the Federal Department of Odds and Ends. Instead of leaving straight away the boy fills out vast reams of unintelligible forms and leaves the lost thing with the authorities, only to return when he realizes he misses it. A moving sequence which has some power even in the storyboard form presented here.

Production Art

     A selection of sketch pages either viewable by Play All or selected individually. They are: Lost Thing, People, Places, Objects, Colour , Texture.

Study Guide

     Pop the DVD into a PC or Mac and you can access a detailed Study Guide in pdf format.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is an All Region DVD.


     The Lost Thing may be short but it speaks volumes in its beautiful animation and delicate, meaningful script. Suitable for all ages.

     The DVD quality is great in both sound and vision terms. The extras are comprehensive and worth watching.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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