“Tango” by Zbigniew Rybczyński

“Tango” is an experimental animated film made by Zbigniew Rybczyński in 1980. It is set in one room with an increasing number and series of interesting characters that loop in and out of the composition over and over.

Can you stop watching?

There is an incredibly sticky visual quality and an “I cant stop watching” aspect to the piece. Tango won The Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1983.

This evening in class we screened the “short animated film”, but is this a film? How would you describe this piece technically? The year it was made plays a role for sure.

What did you think of “Tango” as a whole? What is your interpretation of the piece? What is the artist communicating?

Please leave your reactions and responses in the comments section below.

8 comments

  1. Wilmer Cuba says:

    At first I thought that the film was an experiment with the technology of its time, but then after I watched it again I realized that perhaps there was more to it. I thought that there might be some kind of message. The film started with a boy recovering a ball that fell into a room. Then the film proceeded to showcase a bunch of different kinds of people entering and leaving the room. There was a women breastfeeding a child, a drunken man having a sip of liquor, a couple making out, a woman getting dressed, a man replacing a light bulb then falling to the ground, a man eating at the table, a woman changing a baby’s diaper, and a lot of other people doing many other things in the same room. Finally an older woman is seen resting, then she gets up to recover the ball that fell through the window, perhaps the boy seen earlier in the film accidentally through the ball through the window. Now the old lady picked it up and then walked out of the room, leaving the room empty. Maybe there was a message about life and how much life can exist in just one room. The film’s message probably had to do with some kind of timeline about life in one room. As far as the music of tango playing in the background goes, I think that the message is that perhaps life is like a tango dance where people occupy once space and a lot goes on in that one space. Like tango, there’s a lot of back and forth.

  2. Andrea says:

    I felt as though this piece represented the dance of life. Every day we all go through life to our own beat which was how I tied in the Tango element. Its interesting that this piece is so relevant today since all of the characters are just going about their lives completely unaffected by what is going on around them just like we seem to do today–everyone is so busy, they don’t have time or take the time to often notice what is happening in the world around them.

  3. Hannah Kerin says:

    I feel as this is not a film, but more of a moving still picture. The motions were repetitive and I feel as if the emphasis was not on the moving aspect, but the final placement of each of the characters, which is why I think of this as more of a moving still picture than a film.

    In my opinion, I felt the piece was showing life, all stages, from being a child, to adult, and then the elderly. I think the author was trying to show that all ages, all different sorts of people coexist at the same time without crossing paths. I also feel as if the author was trying to convey the beginning and end of life. The film commenced with a child and ended with an elderly women.

  4. Grace Pentecoste says:

    First off, I believe all the responses are beautiful. Also, did anyone else have a hard time resisting every time that man fell from getting electrocuted? The noise he made just got to me every time for some reason.

    I have a really hard time deciphering these types of videos as short films or just video art. Yes, there is somewhat of a story line but there isn’t a real climax or conflict. It’s just a bunch of people everywhere entering and exiting a room. Yes, there is a significant underlying message being shown to the viewers but I guess it depends on how this video is projected if it is at all possible to be video installation art.

    I thought the song choice and title is a perfect description of this piece. I feel that this video is showing the events of this room in passing time of its existence all at once. Showing all the events and multipurpose of that room, an endless amount of stories and memories. Life comes and goes but places stay the same.

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