Director: Don Hertzfeldt
Starring: Winona Mae, Julia Pott, Sara Cushman (all voiced)
I can’t seem to shake this film from my mind. It’s invaded my dreams, as is usually the case for Don Hertzfeldt’s uniquely entertaining view on life. Off the back of his recent couch gag for ‘The Simpsons’ and his feature length cartoon ‘It’s Such A Beautiful Day‘ from 2012, Hertzfeldt comprises his past year of work – which was initially a foray into testing his boundaries of digital animation – into a futuristic short tale detailing what life is like in some 237 years time from now.
The story follows a young girl (voiced by Hertzfeldt’s four year old niece) who through some strange contraption is able to meet a future clone of herself (voiced by Julia Pott). Using experimental time travel, the young girl travels into the future and gets a taste of what is yet to come. The short film is filled with the usual brilliance of incredibly funny and bizarre animations, and is clearly deserving of its awards at SXSW and Sundance.
Upon first viewing, I laughed at the apparent nonsense, but on second viewing, it made a much deeper impression. No doubt the intention of this film, the “world of tomorrow” depicted here is actually not all that far removed from reality as we know it today. I’ll provide a couple of examples, sort of spoilers, but more prompts to look beyond the top layer of ridiculousness. In one scene, we see robots work in the sunlight for fear of death, constantly working away from the dark side of the moon – is that not representational of the general population now? In another scene, people stare into view screens witnessing any event in history. The future shown by Hertzfeldt is that people eventually create a loop of people staring into view screens to see people staring into view screens. This is an extreme example, absurd even, but terrifying in its closeness to the truth. From people constantly documenting every moment of their life, to reality TV shows and then phenomenons like ‘Gogglebox’, where we literally watch people watching reality TV shows – is a future where people watch screens of people watching screens that unrealistic?
There are many more examples within ‘World of Tomorrow’, it is a thought-provoking piece of work filled with creative parallels to our current existence. However, the seriousness of the bleak nature of the future is undercut by the random chatterings of the young girl, Emily. Cute, funny and oblivious, toy cars and flashing lights are more interesting than floating around the outer-web and the prospect of experimental technology consuming the world.
When this film invades my dreams, I spend my hours of sleep drifting through the outer-web, escaping the darkness and floating into outer-space. Just like ‘It’s Such A Beautiful Day’, it consumes my mind. A truly brilliant film. I just wish it had been longer.