Using his self-taught artistic style of animation, Alberto Mielgo documents personal memories in an attempt to figure out the societal meaning of love in The Windshield Wiper. He asked friends and family what ‘love’ means to them, and their vastly different responses prompted him to ponder the question himself.
This animated short begins with a philosopher smoking at a table by himself in a bustling café, and asks the question of “What is love?” A series of vignettes, based on personal imagery from Mielgo’s life, follows in an attempt to define ‘love’ in current times.
The Windshield Wiper is on the Oscar shortlist for Best Animated Short Film. It will debut online on January 19th for a limited time on Short of the Week.
DEADLINE: How did you come up with the idea for The Windshield Wiper?
ALBERTO MIELGO: Well, love kind of changed drastically over the last few generations. I think that the concept of family and relationships is very different from back in the time I grew up. My parents are much older than me, by a lot, I was born when my father was 50 and my mother was 46. Back then, relationships were very much based on family, on growing a strong family and on commitment.
And nowadays the values and the expectations have drastically changed. Now people are a little bit more concerned about their own self, about their own careers, and about their growth as an individual. So, I’m very much in the middle and I wanted to explore how relationships and love work nowadays, not so much about what love is biologically or philosophically. It’s a little bit more of, what is love socially. I wanted to do it because animation is my craft and the best thing that I know how to do. I wanted to explore something I am particularly interested in with my best tool, so in a way it’s a very personal piece.
DEADLINE: Is the question of “what is love,” in a social sense, something that you’ve been pondering for a long time?
MIELGO: Yeah, you know, sometimes you fall in love and it’s successful, sometimes you fail. Sometimes relationships don’t work, sometimes they work, but you never really know how, like what’s the secret? So, in a way it’s been always in my mind, it’s always been sort of like an obsession. It’s funny because I think that love is contextual. It’s based on everything that is surrounding you at the time that you are falling in love. So, it’s not so much about the person itself, it’s very much about everything around you. I guess that asking yourself, what is love is very much asking yourself what life is about, right? What is everything that’s around you? What makes you in love now, and not when you are super busy or when you are in the middle of war or when you are on a vacation, you know? I guess that love is very contextual.
DEADLINE: Where did all of the different vignettes come from?
MIELGO: Everything is very personal. Sometimes there are photographs that I take that I might use in the future for something or a personal experience that I had to illustrate somehow. So, in a way, everything is very personal imaginary. But always from the point of view of an outsider. I didn’t wanna get too deep inside of the relationship, I wanted to be more of an observer. I think that the base of analysis is usually to try to detach yourself from whatever you are trying to analyze. So, I was just trying to see love from outside. That’s why every vignette is a little bit, I would say, open to interpretation.
DEADLINE: So, where does the title of The Windshield Wiper come from?
MIELGO: There is novel that Virginia Woolf wrote, called The Waves, and it has kind of like the rhythm of waves. It’s very interesting and I felt inspired by that because the rhythm of the film is almost like wiping. So, you see any scene and it wipes. And the thing is that we always fail to define love, because what we are doing is trying to give a word to something that is very difficult to define, because we use the same word for each different relationship. So, metaphorically, what I was trying to do is basically show the drops that fall on the windshield, they kind of form a specific pattern, and then you wipe it and the whole window is clean again, but it keeps raining and the pattern is completely different. It might look similar, but it’s completely different. So, that pattern, as a relationship, is completely different. So that’s very much the meaning of the film, like that windshield wiping away that pattern that basically reflects each different relationship.
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