“Edmond Was a Donkey“, a 2012 short film by Franck Dion, is a meditation on purpose, vocational monotony, the pursuit of self, and a society’s conformity against idiosyncrasy and invention. Edmond, a diminutive man who works in a large, gray office institution, discovers one day after a prank by co-workers, who had made him a paper hat of donkey ears, that he may in fact be the happiest as a donkey.
Read directly as a response to the impersonal nature of rote work, Edmond can be viewed as a reflection of careers, and its corollary, lives, which have plateaued and are now in a state of insipidity. The unorthodox realization of his desire is the antithetical solution to his vapid environment, but it seems that the social imperative to exist in conventional spaces, to produce or progress in a hierarchy of industry, ostracizes him from his peers and prevents self-fulfillment.
Analogously, Edmond’s evolution is kindred to any monumental discoveries that challenge the establishment, changing the status quo of the system. These realizations are ridiculed for their apparent aberration, and in this case, literally treated as a mental illness. Necessity is the mother of invention, so the proverb is stated, and it is with as much force and necessity, as other creators of history, that Edmond reinvents himself, at a great sacrifice he deems worthy of making.
Toting a message of empowerment and inner strength, “Edmond Was a Donkey” is an advisory that sometimes a small change can embolden a great transformation. The levity of Edmond’s outward appearance belies the leverage of his inward self, and although society may regard his transfiguration trivially, the unexpected reward of confidence and self-assurance ensures a final, blithe resting place for Edmond’s happiness.