Directed by Don Hertzfeldt
Starring Winona Mae & Julia Pott
Short film review by Lorenzo Lombardi
Fresh off winning an Empire Jameson award for Best Short Film - although inexplicably snubbed for the Oscars - World of Tomorrow is a transcendent and masterful odyssey into what makes us human. Themes of memory, love and desire are all profoundly interwoven through a combination of visceral backgrounds, a visionary observation of the world to come and an emotional insight into how society will be affected by the new world.
The short film follows a little girl named Emily (Winona Mae) who is taken on a tour of the future. Guiding her through this is a future version of herself: a 3rd generation version Emily (Julia Pott). Touring this future (227 years from the present), Emily delineates the abilities technology and science will wrought. Society can now clone, which is mainly used as a platform to subsequently store memories into, ultimately achieving immortality. Virtually all of the world can be solidified digitally into another platform: the “Outer-net”, the next stage from the Internet. Here, limitless opportunities are possible, which include the ability to view any event in history, or to materialize any bit of consciousness. Completed with time travel, science and technology have distorted time and space.
Notwithstanding the astounding evolution of this new world, it also has a bittersweet impact. Perpetually repeated, people have gradually become emotionless and mentally disintegrated using cloning. Lower class people are particularly affected, with millions dying over a cheap time travel method. And - a real possibility - the reliance of virtual reality has blurred the line between real and digital. This film imposes many questions and ideas. With cloning, will love become obsolete? Is the fear of the unknown our downfall? Audiences may feel confused upon a first viewing, but repetition will help to understand it viscerally. A viewer shall realize why the clones’ memories are abstract: because they are comprised of digitalised memories. They did not experience them.
Alike the director’s previous film, It’s Such a Beautiful Day, Don Hertzfeldt uses an emotionally fuelled narrative. World of Tomorrow’s animated style of the characters is charming, and they fit well with the bleak abstract backdrops of the film. Little girl Emily is funnily and spontaneously voiced by 4-year-old Winona Mae, making the character’s reactions feel genuine. Julia Pott voices Emily’s clone understandably plain, but you can make small resonations with what sounds like feelings when she recounts her relationships. Coinciding magnificently with Hertzfeldt’s beautiful use of classical music from the likes of Strauss and Gliere, this film invoked a lot in me. It taught me to value my life that tad bit more and to consider to what extent should the human race achieve their evolutionary goals. Needless to say, World of Tomorrow conveys more in 15 minutes than most features do in 120.