Watch an Animation of Shaun Tan’s All-Ages Picture Book The Lost Thing

What would you do if you crossed paths with a jin­gling lost thing whose oven-shaped body, crus­ta­ceous claws, and fleshy ten­ta­cles would seem right at home in Hierony­mus Bosch’s Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights?

Scream? Run? Release your bow­els?

The anony­mous nar­ra­tor of The Lost Thing, a fif­teen-minute ani­ma­tion born of Shaun Tan’s all-ages pic­ture book, attempts, instead, to iden­ti­fy it empir­i­cal­ly through care­ful obser­va­tion, cal­i­brat­ed mea­sure­ment, and con­trolled exper­i­men­ta­tion. When the sci­en­tif­ic approach fails, he assumes respon­si­bil­i­ty for his strange find, lead­ing it through a clank­ing, grimy land­scape where san­i­ta­tion crews deflate beach balls with pointy sticks after the joy­less hol­i­day crowds are dismissed—a vision of steam­punk in defeat.

We’re loathe to hit you with any more spoil­ers. Suf­fice it to say that this is a fine exam­ple of inno­v­a­tive­ly adapt­ed source mate­r­i­al, and that even­tu­al­ly our sto­ic hero—voiced by British-born Aus­tralian com­ic Tim Minchin—and his charge arrive in a land­scape that should cause the inhab­i­tants of the Island of Mis­fit Toys to stop moon­ing over San­ta.

You will find The Lost Thing list­ed in the Ani­ma­tion sec­tion of our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch a Whim­si­cal Ani­ma­tion of Ita­lo Calvino’s Short Sto­ry “The Dis­tance of the Moon”

Watch Ani­ma­tions of Oscar Wilde’s Children’s Sto­ries “The Hap­py Prince” and “The Self­ish Giant”

Hard­er Than It Looks: How to Make a Great Stop Motion Ani­ma­tion

Ayun Hal­l­i­day picks all man­ner of jet­sam off the curbs of her Brook­lyn neigh­bor­hood. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.