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Bunny - Oscar Winning Short Film

Updated on September 17, 2014


Bunny Movie Poster.
Bunny Movie Poster. | Source

Bunny the Short Film - An Educational Resource to Teach Death and Dying

I would not have believed that the computer animation studio that produced "Ice Age" would have created a short film that works as an effective resource for educating children and adults about death and dying, but this short film is a valuable thanatology* resource for teaching about death and dying.

On the surface Bunny the Short Film, appears to be just a funny cartoon, yet this animated short reaches people on a deeper level. The film can be used to open discussion for more serious topics.

I have used Bunny personally to start conversations about death and the dying process with my young cartoon-watching daughters and also professionally with my graduate students studying bereavement. 

* Thanatology is the scientific study of death, dying and bereavement. 

Note: This seven-minute short film was included as a bonus feature on the Super Cool Edition of Ice Age (1) DVD.

Image Bunny Movie Poster. 

Discovering Bunny the Short Film

The Light Bulb Moment

My daughters were the ones that discovered the Award Winning Animated Computer Animated Short Film Bunny in the Spring of 2006. They were clicking through the bonus features after watching Ice Age (1) and found the one featuring Director Chris Wedge. He was describing the making of an earlier film. When I heard him mention "metamorphosis" and "tunnels of light," I stopped what I was doing on the computer to watch this heart-warming computer animated short film.

I watched the video and was touched by the heart-felt story of love, dying and the hope of a reunion with loved ones who have gone before us.

As an animated film, people don't expect to see serious topics, but mixed in with the humorous elements of Bunny the short film are issues touching on the end of life and the presence of an afterlife.

It didn't take long for the death educator in me to realize this this animated short film is a wonderful educational tool. Bunny the Short Film can be used to introduce the concepts of death and dying to children as well as adults. I quickly realized that Bunny would be an excellent resource for teaching different groups and different ages about death and dying topics.

Photo: Images from Bunny Website.

Bunny - Academy Award Winning Best Animated Short Film 1998

A special note for those viewing the film who have experienced a recent loss.

Be sure to have a box of tissues near by. You may need to use them.

Bunny 1998 Oscar Winning Short Video

About Bunny

An Academy Award Winning Best Animated Short Film 1998

Bunny is an earlier short from Blue Sky Studio, the studio that produced "Ice Age," "Robots," and "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown." The Studio is currently working on an animated version of the classic "Horton Hearts a Who!" scheduled to be released in 2008.

This Oscar® Winning Best Animated Short Film explores the concepts of love, dying, reunion and life after death, with care, humor and amazingly realistic computer imagery.

After viewing the short film you will be left wondering what happens when we die, about the dying process and the possibility of a life after death.

Bunny The Short Film - A Labor of Love

A Project Created From the Heart

In his acceptance speech for the Academy Award (Oscar®) director Chris Wedge acknowledged that the making of Bunny was a labor of love.

He also thanked the Blue Sky Studio for allowing him to follow his heart and for "pouring so much of yours into Bunny."

In the director's interview at the beginning of the short film, Chris Wedge described Bunny as "a whimsical, serious look at what happens to people when they die."

Part of the reason they had created Bunny was to be a "fun way of looking at something that we all need to face someday."

Photo: Images from Bunny Website.

Introducing Radiosity and Photorealism - Creating A New Dimensionality and Realism in Animation

Bunny began as an effort to push the limits of Blue Sky Studio's proprietary lighting software. It was the first film to use an advanced ambient lighting technology known as radiosity*. This new technique accounts for the unique, photorealistic style of the computer animation used for Bunny.

Using radiosity Wedge and his crew were able to create a dimensionality and organic realism never before seen in a computer-animated film.

The Blue Sky Studio set new standards in cinematic storytelling for the computer animation industry by developing and producing Bunny's unique, warm and photorealistic style.

* Radiosity is an advanced computer rendering technique that mimics the most subtle properties of natural light

* Photorealism is a computer technique that produces photographic quality computer generated images.

Awards for Bunny

Recognition for Animation Excellence

Some of the Awards for Bunny include:

  • *An 1998 Oscar®Award for best animated short film.
  • * Best Digital Animation Overall, New York Animation Festival
  • * First Prize, International Children's Cinema 45th, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen * IMAGINA, Monaco, France
  • - Grand Prix IMAGINA (Grand Prize of IMAGINA)
  • - Prix PIXEL-INA Fiction (Grand Prize Fiction)
  • - Prix PIXEL-INA Animation 3D (Grand Prize 3D Animation)
  • * Golden Nica Award, Computer Animation, Prix Ars Electronica 99

Our Experience with Bunny

A Coincidence or a Message

My husband was walking around the house at the time to girls were watching the short film. He was also quickly drawn into this short film.

He had lost his father earlier in the spring and was touched by this simple, moving story.

Was finding the movie for us just a coincidence or was it message sent from my father-in-law? Was it an educational resource brought to my attention by a moth-like angel?

Who knows anything for sure, but my husband wasn't able to kill moths for several months after watching Bunny.

Hope...a Thing with Feathers

...or Perhaps Wings

  • Hope is that thing with feathers
  • that perches in the soul
  • and sings the tune without the words
  • and never stops...
  • at all.
  • Emily Dickinson

Photo: Images from Bunny Website.

Bunny the Short Film: Offering A Ray of Hope

A Glimpse of What Lies Beyond?

The short bunny video offers a ray of hope of joining your loved one.
Graduate Bereavement Student

For me, the short film Bunny provides a bit of hope for those who have lost a loved one...a hope that there may be something beyond this life.

After viewing the film I felt that the video offered a ray of hope, perhaps a visual glimpse of what many of us hope the end will be like. The production studio seemed to include the images described by those who have had near death experiences.

One thing that does shine through the film is director Chris Wedge's heart-felt message of love and hope comes though, leaving the viewer with a warm and hope-filled feeling by the end of the short seven-minute film.

Bunny - An Educational Tool for End of Life Topics

An Animated Video to Introduce Death and Dying Topics

The first time I saw Bunny I felt as though a great teaching/learning tool for end-of-life care had fallen from out of the "Blue Sky."

Bunny the short film is a wonderful educational tool for introducing end-of-life concepts to children of all ages as well as an opening video to create a common experience with adults in different settings.

Perhaps Bunny will be enjoying life as a end-of-life educational tool.

Benefits of Using Bunny as an Educational Tool

A quick look at some of the benefits of using Bunny the Short Film as an educational resource:

  1. Length - At a little over 7 minutes, makes it ideal for showing in a classroom or group setting.
  2. Wide Age Appeal - With it being animated, there is the Universal appeal of a cartoon, making it watchable from children to elderly adult, pre-kindergarten to graduate students.
  3. Diversity - Since Bunny does not belong to a particular ethnic group or appear to have a particular spiritual belief, the film can appeal to different spiritual beliefs and ethnic groups.
  4. Mixture of Humor and Serious and Humorous elements mixed with more serious end-of-life topics.
  5. Appealing Cinematography - The film was created using a photorealistic style that makes it warm and appealing to watch.
  6. Comfort & Hope - The heart-felt message of the film provides comfort and hope to those who have recently (or not) lost a loved one.
  7. Musical Score - The created by singer/songwriter Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan is emotionally moving.
  8. Create a Common Experience - Showing the film allows the teacher or instructor to create a common starting experience about death for students or groups to then discuss or write about.
  9. Availability - Bunny is available online where the video can be viewed in several settings. Bunny is also available as a bonus feature on a readily available DVD.

Audience for Bunny - A Universal Appeal

A Short Film that Appeals from the Very Young to the Very Old

The film is relatively short, a little over 7 minutes including the credits, so it is an ideal starting video or ice-breaker for introducing end-of-life concepts.

Bunny could be used as an educational resource for younger children, high school and in College level Death and Dying courses, courses for medical or nursing students. I could easily see Bunny being used in support groups.

Viewing Bunny Creates A Common Experience - A Starting Point for Discussions on Death and Dying Topics

Showing Bunny the short film in a class or a group is a way of giving everyone a common experience as a starting place for discussions on a variety of topics.

Some of the topics that I have thought about that could be discussed or written about following bunny include:

  1. Aging
  2. Elderly
  3. Living Alone
  4. Dying
  5. The dying experience
  6. Death
  7. The presence of angels
  8. The belief in something beyond death
  9. Afterlife

Using Bunny with my Young Daughters

Taking an Opportunity to Discuss End of Life Topics

Watching Bunny - The First Time

While my girls were watching the video, I felt as though a great teaching and learning tool for end-of-life care had fallen in my lap from out of the sky.

At the time when my daughters first found Bunny, they had recently experienced the death of my father-in-law. I asked them what they thought about the short film, realizing it was an excellent teachable moment * for discussing death and dying with them.

The first time they watched Bunny they were curious, but didn't seem to want to talk too much about it afterward.

Watching Bunny - Subsequent Times

My daughters recently stumbled across Bunny the Short Film again after playing the Ice Age video games on the Ice Age Film.

This most recent time viewing Bunny they were much more interested. As the film started coming on my oldest (7) informed my youngest (5) that "this is about what happens when you die."

When watching the film short, they spent some time trying to decide if the moth was an angel or Bunny's husband coming back to visit her.

They also tried to figure out when she died. My girls decided it was when she climbed into the oven (Chris Wedge has stated it is when she slumps at the table.)

They were both quite happy with the ending, with Bunny flying off and joining the moths and ultimately joining her husband in the photo.

Several days later, after thinking about it for awhile, I hear the following questions from my girls listed in the next section.

* A teachable moment is a moment of educational opportunity: a time at which a person, especially a child, is likely to be particularly disposed to learn something or particularly responsive to being taught or made aware of something.

Photo Source: Bunny Movie Poster.

Questions for Children After Watching Bunny

Using Bunny to Discuss Death and Dying with Children

Questions about Bunny

These are some of the questions that I have come up with that you could use with young children:

  • 1. What do you think is happening in this film?
  • 2. What do you think the moth is?
  • 3. Why do you think she got so angry?
  • 4. Why do you think she crawled into the oven?
  • 5. What do you think crawling into the oven meant?
  • 6. What do you think about the ending?
  • 7. What happened to Bunny?
Questions about Dying, Death and Heaven

Depending on the group, you could go on to ask more questions, or be ready to answer their questions.

Some of the questions that I heard from my daughters after watching this were:

  • 1. What is heaven?
  • 2. Will I see you in heaven?
  • 3. What happens when you die?
  • 4. Why do people die?
  • 5. Is this what happens when you die?

View Bunny the Short Film First

Considerations for Teachers, Counselors and Others Before Using Bunny

Due to the nature of the topic, there is a potential for Bunny to trigger a grief response in the viewers. Those viewing the film who have experienced a recent loss, should be sure to have a box of tissues close at hand.

You may need to use them.

Consequently, teachers, professors, instructors and counselors need to watch Bunny first before using the film.

This is for two reasons.

  • 1. To ensure the is one that you believe your class, children, teens, adults or bereavement group will enjoy.
  • 2. To ensure that you will be able to watch it, and be able to predict your emotional response, especially if you have experienced a recent loss.

Photo: Modified Microsoft Image.

Ice Age 2002

Ice Age (Single-Disc Edition)
Ice Age (Single-Disc Edition)
Bunny is included with the Ice Age 2002 movie.

Watching Bunny - An Assignment for My Graduate Bereavement Students

Using Bunny to Get Students Reflecting

Watching Bunny was one of the assignments that I had my graduate students complete for the online Bereavement Course that I taught in the Winter 2007.

Week 1

1. View Video - There are several places online that you can view the video.

2. Reflect and comment on the short film.

  • * What were you feeling when watching the short film?
  • * Was this an easy or difficult short film to watch? * Why or Why not?
  • * What emotion did you feel when the short film ended?

3. After you have posted your responses, read and respond to your classmates.

  • * Were their experiences of the film similar or different from your own?
  • * How so?

Week 2

The second week I posted my comments about the award winning video short, some of which have been used to write this lens.

My graduate students were then asked to comment on using the animated short film Bunny as a potential resource for introducing and/or teaching others about end-of-life topics.

Selected comments by my graduate students follow in the segments below.

Photo: Images from Bunny Website.

Comments about Bunny - From My Graduate Students

A Ray of Hope, A Peaceful Light

I too thought the short bunny video offered a ray of hope of joining your loved one.

You often hear people say they have seen a light as they get close to death. The bunny video showed that light as welcoming, drawing one in, in a peaceful way.

I agree with you that this [Bunny] would be a good video to show nursing students, people working in hospice and even a family that has lost a loved one.

More Comments About Bunny - From My Graduate Students

A Learning Tool for All Ages

It was so touching that your husband couldn't kill a moth after seeing the video. It really must have impacted him.

Your insight to it being a short video and an ice breaker into a very hard subject for many people never dawned on me when viewing it. It was so simple, pure and beautiful yet it conveyed so much.

I passed the link onto my sisters and two of the four showed deep appreciation for seeing it. Both said it reminded them of our parents finally reunited in their afterlife.

It would serve well as a learning tool for all ages because of its simplicity. Thank you for having us view it as part of the course material. I loved it!

Photo: Images from Bunny Website.

Bunny available on Amazon

Ice Age (Single-Disc Edition)
Ice Age (Single-Disc Edition)
You can order your own copy of Bunny as an extra bonus feature on the Super Cool Edition of Ice Age (the first version).

Additonal Comments About Bunny - From My Graduate Students

A Calming and Positve Light on the Death of a Loved One

I enjoyed learning a deeper context to the video.

I had not considered how the short length and animation subject would make this video have universal appeal.

It can serve all age groups, spiritual beliefs and ethnic groups. Because it is animation it is less threatening and could accordingly be a great ice breaker.

I am going to get the Ice Age DVD that has this short film on it for future use.

I have not had a recent death, but looking at it through that vantage can see how comforting it could be. It certainly did put a calming and positive light on the death of a loved one.

Photo: Ice Age Super Cool Edition.

What did you think about Bunny?

Let me know if you decide to use this for discussing death and dying.

© 2007 Kirsti A. Dyer


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