996. World of Tomorrow – Don Hertzfeldt

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SUMMARY: A young girl named Emily receives a live video transmission from an adult third-generation clone of herself contacting her from 227 years in the future.

WHY IT’S HERE: Having wowed critics and fans with his extraordinary Bill trilogy, Don Hertzfeldt somehow managed to follow it up with something every bit as astonishingly masterful. Hertzfeldt’s first foray into digital animation, ‘World of Tomorrow’ retains his simple stick-figure characters but places them in a more colourful, mesmerising world influenced by magazine cover designs from the 50s and 60s. Although always interested in the sci-fi genre, Hertzfeldt was concerned about the inevitability of covering ground already touched upon by other artists but having made the decision to make his first digital film, this seemed like the ideal time to try his hand at sci-fi. Although the story does feature familiar concepts such as clones, robots and time travel, Hertzfeldt puts a totally new spin on them, filtering them through his distinctive but never predictable tragi-comic writing. Much kudos must also be given to Hertzfeldt’s voice actors. Julia Pott is perfect as the monotone but somehow sad-sounding clone, while Winona Mae, Hertzfeldt’s four year old niece, is disarmingly adorable as Emily. By recording her while she was drawing and playing, Hertzfeldt was able to capture the naturally joyous sound of a child which is practically impossible to coax out of actors. Winona’s lovely ramblings are not just non-sequiturs but are incorporated perfectly into the plot, making her the most important, relatable character in the film. Though nominated for an Oscar, ‘World of Tomorrow’ unbelievably did not win but has been immediately embraced as a masterpiece.

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