Peter Peake’s wonderful short film Take Rabbit reminds us that life is full of choices that all have different consequences. Putting an interesting twist on the age-old conundrum where a merchant has a fox, a rabbit, and a cabbage that he has to safely transport across a river in a small rowing boat, Peake portrays the animals as quarrelling lovers who both unleash their frustration on the impartial stranger – the merchant. Even the cabbage has his say, and stirs something inside the man who so far has just indifferently listened and tried to mind his own business, and thus attempts to reconcile the rabbit and the fox.
When realising that his attempt to bring together the lovers backfires, the merchant walks into the water only to, in conclusion of the film, find himself stuck in another conundrum – the fork in the road; an image which poetically conveys the tendency of life to throw you from one dilemma to another.
What makes Take Rabbit so effective as a short film isn’t the fact that the riddle is solved, but instead the imaginative way it exhibits life lessons on the small row boat route. The dialogue is very well written, and compellingly coveys the complexity of relationships with a touch of witty British humour. Each passenger at some point notes that the merchant should get a bigger boat, which accurately makes a point about unsolicited advice, and minding one’s own business; the fox even goes as far as to suggest that they all would have fit in the boat if they tried, consequently bringing to forefront the concept of the riddle. The voice acting is spectacular – Amelia Bullmore as the rabbit, Matt Berry as the fox, and Stephen Graham as the wise cabbage each peel away, bit by bit, the apathetic appearance of the merchant-rower who is voiced by Steve Pemberton.
The animation is also noteworthy in its simplicity. In first gaze it appears underwhelming, but is actually filled with details that make it special – such as the twitching nose of the rabbit, the cabbage’s teeth, and the splashing water. This proves that less is more, and beauty lies in simplicity. The deep moral points made in the dialogue aren’t overpowered by the animation, which allows the film to come together as a powerful whole.
Dir: Peter Peake
Scr: Peter Peake
Cast: Matt Berry, Amelia Bullmore, Stephen Graham, Steve Pemberton
Prd: Gareth Owen
Music: Alex Lupo
DOP: Peter Peake
Runtime: 15 minutes