Release: March 31, 2015 (Vimeo)
Written by: Don Hertzfeldt
Directed by: Don Hertzfeldt
In memory of my mother.
Profundity runs rampant in Don Hertzfeldt’s latest short film, World of Tomorrow. While a departure from his painstakingly hand-drawn catalog, the science behind the science fiction is remarkable in ways that only Hertzfeldt can be remarkable. That is to say, the decision to go digital doesn’t mean he’s abandoning what has made him a unique talent.
World of Tomorrow, as has been the case for many of his works, particularly his penultimate musing on life and death, It’s Such a Beautiful Day, is dense and complex, and quite possibly his most ambitious effort yet, transporting viewers to a screwy little world where technology has afforded humans the ability to preserve their memories in digital reincarnations of themselves in the pretty-distant future, but on the condition they have the financial wherewithal to do so. (Discount time travel seems as dodgy as it sounds.)
Hertzfeldt once again employs a simple narrative vehicle to move across a complex terrain filled with conceptual and visual grandeur. The story features a young girl named Emily who is shown this new digital environment via another version of herself projected some 200 years into the future. The “older” Emily explains the complexities of advanced human technology while the “younger” Emily (or Emily Prime) babbles on about the typical stuff a young child finds fascinating. The relationship almost feels parental.
World of Tomorrow is a gorgeously rendered short, one that incorporates many of Hertzfeldt’s signature designs: wobbly lines, eclectic color schemes, stick figure characters — each contributing to a greater, vastly complex whole. A number of heavy themes are touched upon such as reincarnation, socioeconomic status, the fragility of life and the inevitability and permanence of death — and it’s all captured within a 17-minute running time.
It’s a production that necessitates multiple viewings, if not for the sheer amount of heavy-hitting themes then for its ability to transport the viewer far away from the comfort of their living room and into an entirely new dimension.
Recommendation: Suitably melancholic yet strangely uplifting. World of Tomorrow finds Hertzfeldt once again sculpting a profoundly emotional story out of simple drawings and bizarre visuals. An absolute must-see for anyone who has enjoyed his previous work, and for those who find themselves intrigued by the idea of time travel and whether or not it’s worth the risk(s).
Running Time: 17 mins.
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