I originally saw the Oscar-nominated short, World of Tomorrow, with my friend at the little indie movie theater here in Boise. It was shown with the collection of all the nominated animated shorts. I’d read the synopsis of it when it first appeared on Netflix, but it seemed depressing. I’d avoided it for weeks by the time we went to see the shorts, so when its title popped up on the screen I felt apprehensive.
Since then, I’ve streamed this film four or five times for different friends and family. Everyone has had the exact same reaction:
“That was weird,” silence, “It was pretty adorable.”
Set in the futuristic “outernet,” this think piece is about a third generation clone who contacts her source parent, Emily Prime, through the barrier of time. She contacts Emily Prime when the girl is about three or four years old. Essentially it’s a surreal conversation between a glitchy, emotionless clone and a toddler.
Winona Mae, the actual little girl playing Emily Prime, adlibbed the majority of her lines, and Don Hertzfeldt drew her character’s motions around what she said. The end product is adorably random, like so many real-life toddlers.
The film has a rather melancholy theme to it, what with it being the end of the world in the clone’s time. But the filmmaker throws in some off-kilter humor, like Emily3’s sordid love life, including a glittery rock, a satisfying fuel pump, and an incoherent alien. They also include arbitrary musings by Emily Prime, such as discussing her red and pink robots.
I rooted for this little Hertzfeldt project to win the Oscar, but I am consistently off whenever I make predictions for the awards. I apparently do not have my finger on the pulse of the academy, which is basically alright with me.
As I’ve stated before, I like what I like.
There is also a full length Herzfeldt film on Netlix right now called It’s Such a Beautiful Day. My husband says it is equally melancholy with a sprinkling of levity, but I haven’t checked it out quite yet. I need to prepare for the emotional toll.
World of Tomorrow is only a measley 17 minutes, well worth taking some time out of your day to watch it once, or seven times.