It is not too often that a film pulls at your heartstrings and renews your faith in humanity. And it is even more surprising when a short film does.
With filmmaker Jacob Frey’s “The Present,” you will be enthralled by the initial anger and eventual understanding and love between the puppy and a boy featured in the short film. It has won more than 50 awards and has been screened at more than 180 film festival around the world. And there is good reason why.
“The Present,” which is based on a comic strip by Fabio Coala, starts off with the sound of machine gun fire and opens visually with a young boy engrossed in a video game. His mother comes home and places a box on the table in front of him, temporarily blocking his view of the game he is playing.
She tells the boy that it is such a beautiful day and that he should go outside, but first she tells him to open the present that she brought for him.
His interest piqued, the boy begins to lift the lid of the box, but before he can finish, a puppy pops its head out and surprises the boy. “Cool” the boy says at first, but when he notices that one of the dog’s front legs is missing, he tosses the puppy in disgust onto the floor. The puppy lands on its back, and then rights itself. The boy, in anger, swipes the box off the table. The boy is obviously agitated. Undeterred, the puppy goes back to the boy and tries to get the boy’s attention, but the boy kicks the puppy away and tells it to get lost.
The puppy won’t take no for an answer. As it is on its back on the carpet, it sees a ball under a cabinet. The puppy brings the ball to the boy. The boy, still uninterested and angry, kicks the ball away. It lands inside the box and the puppy chases it. The boy watches in amusement for just a moment, but then the scowl quickly returns to his face as he tries to play his video game.
The puppy brings the ball back to the boy, who finally relents to the puppy’s sheer determination for companionship. He picks the ball up and then gets off the couch and walks to the door, with the puppy right behind him, and then tells his mom that they are going outside.
The last scene is telling and a surprise as it turns out the boy and dog have a lot in common. It makes one wonder if parents rescue certain dogs that may have similar physical characteristics as their children, as the boy in Australia with Dwarfism or the deaf girl in California may attest. They may be different, but their love is unconditional.