Don Hertzfeldt’s latest project is currently getting attention since it’s nominated at this year’s Oscars for Best Animated Short Film and is seen by some as the frontrunner to win the category. It has earned accolades from many critics since it premiered at Sundance 2015, including from Rolling Stone writer David Ehrlich, who included it at the #2 spot on his annual “Best Films of the Year” video compilation.
But is World of Tomorrow worth the fuss? In the 16-minute film, Hertzfeldt introduces us to Emily, a very young girl who is taken on an unusual journey through time and space by a future version of herself. Sounds like a lot of lofty ideas to pack into one short, doesn’t it? However, one thing that I admired about World of Tomorrow is how its stylistic simplicity complements these grand ideas that Hertzfeldt explores. The animation is purposely crude (though often set on top of lush, abstract backgrounds), only highlighting the film’s emotional punch, which sneaks up on the viewer by the time the credits roll.
Hertzfeldt, whose roles on the film include (but are not limited to) directing, writing, animating, and producing, shows how a seemingly small idea can blossom. And for me, that’s one of the most impressive things about short films – the runtime may be restrictive, but those limited time resources can lead to a lot of creativity and original approaches to storytelling as a result. World of Tomorrow is a great example of the possibilities.