World of Tomorrow World of Tomorrow

Don Hertzfeldt’s 2016 Oscar-nominated short World of Tomorrow is now available to stream for free on Youtube, and the internet is all the better for it.

Hertzfeldt has long been one of the internet’s favorite animators, and it feels right that World of Tomorrow has arrived on the world wide web alongside fellow Oscar nominee Rejected, a film that helped define the modern use of the word viral regarding popular internet content.

World of Tomorrow utilizes Hertzfeldt’s iconic ultra-minimalist design style, but offers more sophisticated digitally-created backgrounds and a more elaborate narrative structure. A time-traveling sci-fi tale, World of Tomorrow turns on a clone from the future who projects her consciousness back to our own time to speak with the young girl, Emily, from whom her line was cloned. Future Emily then pulls Emily Prime into her time and shows her what the world of tomorrow is like for the people who live in it.

Future Emily’s dialogue is stilted and robotic, giving her a lifeless feel that emphasizes a wider lack of humanity in the future. Future Emily’s propensity for falling in love with inanimate or non-sentient objects and alien beasts adds to her strangeness.

Emily Prime is still a very young girl at the time of their encounter, and doesn’t seem to understand most of what she’s shown. Future Emily’s sophisticated dialogue and questions create a disconnect between the two that enhances moments of humanity when they can relate on specific topics. It’s heartbreaking when we realize the impact that Emily Prime’s innocent and well-meaning concerns have on future Emily. As a viewer, one can’t help but empathize with future Emily, because who among us hasn’t forlornly thought back to the child we were and the dreams we had that were never fulfilled?

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