Luxo Jr

Two table lamps play with a rubber ball.

Genre: Animation

Length: 2.06

Free To View

Producer/s : John Lasseter, William Reeves

Director/s : John Lasseter, 

Writer/s : John Lasseter, 

Actor/s : none, 

 

Two lamps and a ball

Luxo Jr was Pixar’s first animation, and was the first computer-generated animation to be nominated for an Oscar. It was actually commissioned by Pixar’s boss Steve Jobs, to show off CGI and the innovative way it renders light and shadow, not for creative purpose. But Luxo Jr is memorable, historic even, because it showed what should have been obvious: that the emotional appeal of hand-drawn animation could be replicated on a computer. The brilliant characterisation of inanimate objects is what got it its Oscar nominated.

There are two table lamps, Luxos Senior and Junior, one the indulgent adult, the other an impulsive child. The lamps must act, they must mime, they must use body language to express themselves. It’s dialogue-free, although Jr’s little squeak may be a “hello”, and the noise when the ball punctures sounds like a “sorry”. We recognise curiosity from the angle of Sr’s head, playfulness from Jr’s excited bouncing, and sadness when Jr curls up and heaves a sigh. We recognise sympathy, and resignation, and when Sr breaks the fourth wall to look us in the eye, we want to share a story with him her or it, about our own children, or kids we know.

It taps into the parent in us, encapsulating a joy and wonder at children and their undisguised capricious emotions. Not bad for 2-minute animation.

Luxo Jr grew up to have a great career as Pixar’s famous logo. His creator’s reputation went the way of Harvey Weinstein’s.