Many animated shorts are either funny (Pigeon: Impossible), dark (Sebastian's Voodoo), or both (The Passenger). Few are what I would describe as poignant, but Kiwi, a four-year-old favorite with currently over 26 million views on YouTube, packs a surprising amount of emotion and subtlety into what at first appears to be yet another cute short:
When I first showed this film to a friend, the meaning of it was completely lost on her — she saw a strange creature nailing trees to a cliff and then jumping. I was sad that she didn't recognize the genius and sadness of the bird's plight. Not everyone is born "normal" and with the full abilities of their peers; even those who do must sometimes come to grips with a sudden loss, as was the case of Daniela García, who Reader's Digest recently profiled. A healthy young woman, she lost all four limbs in a train accident … yet still went on to become a doctor.
Not everyone finds the courage and support they need to deal with such adversity, but they still want to make a difference. I suspect many death wishes arise from a desire to experience a death more meaningful than the preceding life. The titular kiwi knew what it meant to be a bird, but only conceptually; he needed to know it experientially. His dedication to that cause is required an incalculable commitment of time and energy, culminating in his wish at a price even he didn't find too high.
I know it's just an animated short, but I can't help but feel for the kiwi, who died as he didn't live: unconstrained.