Thursday, April 09, 2015

World of Tomorrow

WORLD OF TOMORROW (Don Hertzfeldt, 2015)

Don Hertzfeldt reflects on mortality with his first digitally animated short WORLD OF TOMORROW. Four-year-old Emily (Winona Mae) receives a communication from a third generation clone of herself (Julia Pott) who lives in the distant future. Using time travel she brings the child, who she calls Emily Prime, to 227 years from now.

WORLD OF TOMORROW considers a time in which the technological singularity resulting in the immortality of human consciousness has been achieved. Physical death is overcome through uploading memories to clones or, if one so chooses, a hard drive. As he similarly studied in his three-short compilation feature IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY, Hertzfeldt provides a humorous perspective that seeks to balance the existential despair of what is to come for every living being and childlike wonder at the beauty surrounding us.

Clone Emily has experienced some generation loss, which is more common with analog media than the digital sources from which she has derived. Her desire to regain and relive in lost memories strikes a poignant note representative of the times when wishing to appreciate better those moments that may have been undervalued as they were being lived. Emily Prime, on the other hand, operates on a more instinctual level. She blurts out direct, simple responses to the stimuli in her environment and possesses no concept, and thus no fear, of the abstract ideas and concerns her future self shares. While not as polar opposite in ages like the caricatures of the old man whose year is ending and the New Year’s baby, these Emilys are essentially the same person concurrently contemplating the life behind and ahead.

Hertzfeldt teases humanity’s fondness for devoting precious minutes to inanity, something increasingly driven by the technological distractions around us. Working in the digital realm for the first time allows the stick figure animator to crowd his frames with all manner of slick distractions in light and color. His imagined outernet, an externalized, three dimensional version of the internet, makes tangible the ephemeral things that can remove us from the space we occupy. In WORLD OF TOMORROW Hertzfeldt frets about what forthcoming days, weeks, months, and years hold, yet he reminds himself and us to retain the openness for awe and discovery through mundane and troubling times.

Grade: B+

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