Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Adam Elliot (writer, director, animator), Harvie Krumpet (2003)

Harvie Krumpet (2003) is a clay animation short film that was written, directed and animated by Adam Elliot that is about appreciating difference and disability.   The film centres on Harvey Krumpet, who is flawed and bullied because of his differences.  But Harvie Krumpet remains, for the most part, upbeat and determined to make the most of his (somewhat ordinary) life that he spices with eccentricity.  The film is an affectionate tribute to those individuals who do not fit in.

Elliot positively portrays multiculturalism, multi-ethnic immigration and refugee settlement in Australia by presenting the likeable Harvie Krumpet as having been born in Poland in 1922 to working-class parents before he became an orphan and a refugee who came to Australia to settle in Melbourne. 

Elliot also presented the likeable Harvie Krumpet as having been born with Tourette syndrome, which invites the cinema audience to feel sympathy for people with disabilities.  Harvie Krumpet’s affliction makes him tactless, since he lacks restraint and tends to invade the space of strangers to touch their noses.  He is consequently misunderstood and bullied.  The film quickly establishes that Harvie Krumpet is a well-meaning but distinctive individual who will go through life as a victim of the misunderstandings of others.  He is treated unfairly for being different.  This is a comment on how most people tend to fear and resent difference.  But Harvie Krumpet is shown to proceed through life virtually oblivious to the meanness and insensitivity that surrounds him.  This is presented as a good attitude to live by. 

Harvey Krumpet was schooled at home by an illiterate mother.  His education was consequently of a poor quality, with this being yet another disadvantage that does not seem to restrict his appreciation of life.  She taught him facts misspelt as ‘fakts’, and that seems to him to be all he needs.

He gets by in life by doing odd jobs and having a positive attitude.  Not everything that happens to Harvie Krumpet is bad.  He has some good fortune, a marriage to a kind nurse who treated him for one of his many injuries.  Importantly, Harvie Krumpet’s positive spirit sees him overcomes adversity: the death of his wife, the departure of his daughter to live overseas, and various health afflictions. 

Despite all his problems, Harvie Krumpet is also shown to be broad-minded and accepting of others in a manner that is rare and is meant to serve as an example of moral virtue.   This is evident when he adopted a ‘thalidomide child’ who had severe birth defects. 

Harvie Krumpet has no shame, and he adopts eccentric tastes and pastimes, including and nudism.  He is shown to not be afraid to be himself in a society that expects conformity.  Harvie Krumpet is also shown to find much fulfilment in left-wing political activism, which, in his case, involves campaigning for animal rights and vandalising butcher shops. Left-wing political activism is celebrated in the film as a means to add meaning to one’s life. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

© Mark Lopez 2021 All RIGHTS RESERVED

The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: Harvie Krumpet meaning, Harvie Krumpet themes, Harvie Krumpet analysis, Harvie Krumpet notes