Don Hertzfeldt seems to be a short film animator who nails it every time. He has a distinct voice and style that has accrued a whole heap of praise and even an Oscar nomination. From his fantastic shorts between IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY and REJECTED, he is able to tell heartfelt stories through a few seemingly simplistic drawings that have become so famous he’s even guest appeared in The Simpsons. Emphasis on the seemingly because naturally, on the surface they may seem like stick figures but they move in this pulsating way and combine with vibrant backgrounds, worlds and dialogue.
This winner of the both the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance and Best Animated Short at SXSW, Hertzfeldt is back with the divine and transcendent WORLD OF TOMORROW. Still with his unique style, the film revolves around a young girl named Emily whose playtime is interrupted by a future clone version of herself who wishes to describe the upcoming events to her whilst talking about how her life will unravel. But will the young girl take head of the advice and wisdom that she is parted?
There are many threads of genius here, weaving together to make a truly remarkable short film. First of all, the story is unforgettable. The narrative of the future, told through a third generation of clone to Emily Prime is odd, unusual yet still provocative. Combined with the colours and techniques, black lines and computer animation, Hertzfeldt scatters his two heroines (or heroine in two forms) across a blanket of colours and haunting imagery.
What’s more, the originality of the future that Hertzfeldt has written is entrancing, centring on the real life recordings of his nieces reactions as they talk about the world. Using this as a basis, the animator fleshed out a story which gives it the much-needed heart. Akin to Boo from MONSTERS INC. Emily Prime is sweet-natured and the curiosity is cute and heart-warming. Played opposite Julia Pott, an illustrator in her first acting role, the monotone British clone Emily is a perfect complement to Emily Prime, making you yearn to follow their journey. The plot unfolds through beats of memory and time, shifting through palettes as well as tales that ensnare gorgeous on Pott’s tongue.
WORLD OF TOMORROW battles with themes of memory and entwines it with dystopia. It is a tale of youth and contingency, survival and acceptance of loss, childhood and adulthood, wisdom and innocence. It is beautiful and heavily thematic, much more than simplistic animation – Hertzfedlt wields his art like a courageous visionary, unafraid of the stories that he is telling and enhanced by his own stunning flare
WORLD OF TOMORROW is now available on Vimeo On Demand.