Of the five 2013 Oscar-nominated live-action shorts, three are forgettable at best. The other two, Curfew and Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw), are outstanding.
A World War I soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead and Rust and Bone) uses his camera to capture shadowy images of individuals in their death throes. When he delivers these death shadows, the "collector" mounts them in a gallery-like setting. The film gradually reveals that the soldier is one of the mounted shadows, and must deliver two more shadows to fulfill the 10,000 required for his release back to life. His entire focus is on returning to Sarah, a woman he met just before his death.
Death of a Shadow is beautifully complex and mysterious, both in its story line and production values. The visual textures and colors are layered and deep, despite having a dark and almost monochromatic palette; and the golden array of mechanical gadgetry would be at home in Scorcese's Hugo. Tight editing ensures that every moment of the 20-minute run time is well used.
This is a dimensional marvel, and would have been breath-taking in 3D. Sample this film in the clip below.