World of Tomorrow (2015) [Review]

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A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of her distant future.

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 take on life. Off the back of the recent Simpsons couch gag 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 his 4 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 goes into the future and get a taste for what is yet to come. The short film is filled with the usual brilliance of incredibly funny and bizarre animations, and clearly deserving of it’s awards at SXSW and Sundance.

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Upon first viewing, I laughed at the apparent nonsense. On second viewing, it made a much deeper impression. No doubt the intention of this film, the World of Tomorrow is actually not all that far removed from what is 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? Working during the day, getting the most out of the daylight hours, but should you not be able to work or provide for yourself the consequence of death is a much more realistic possibility?

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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, people staring into view screens of people staring into view screens. This is an extreme example, but absurd and terrifying it it’s closeness to the truth. From people constantly documenting every moment of their life, to reality TV shows and then instances like Gogglebox, where we watch people watch 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 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 round the outer-web and the prospect of experimental technology consuming the world.

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When this invades my dreams, I spend it 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.

World of Tomorrow is available on Vimeo

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