Every now and then, some stories come along that feel overwhelmingly universal and simultaneously very, very specific. For example, what could you possibly have in common with a story about a headless—not metaphorically; literally headless—person? Turns out, quite a lot. Ala Nunu Leszynska’s 5-minute animated short, Ahead is the experience of many, many people, even if we are not quite walking around with a vacant neck.
The beauty of it—besides the sublime animation—is that both of the two characters feel real and identifiable; both sides are explored, both minds seen. A remarkable feat to achieve in five minutes. To get down to the specifics, Ahead depicts the day-to-day life of a couple where there is only the one head. Often, one is responsible for the care and functioning of the other. For many, that is immediately a reverberating reality. Headless or not, many find themselves either in the role of the caretaker or the one in need of care. For some that need is physical, for others, emotional and mental. And for yet others, it is both.
The film portrays the care as both tender and laborious. It is driven by the sincerity of affection, and this is never shown better than when the character leaves to find better help, recognising that their own efforts are not enough. Leszynska does the work and delves into the tension that exists between doing everything to help and doing nothing because everything else will hurt further. Accompanied by Natalia Czekała and Krzysztof Guzewicz’s minimalist score, Ahead hones in on the nuances of love, interpersonal relationships, and need.
In the absence of the loved one’s comfort, the headless character finds themself overwhelmed by all that which has been a struggle to keep at bay. By the time help does arrive, it is too late. And whose fault was it? No one’s. Each tried their best.
Watch Ahead Animated Short Film
Ahead: Love and Need Intertwine in Ways Out of Our Control