World of Tomorrow: Episodes 1 & 2

Two years ago, animator Don Hertzfeldt dropped World of Tomorrow on our undeserving Earth. An animated short derived from recordings of his (then) four-year old niece Winona Mae, it featured  a young girl named Emily who is visited by a third-generation clone of herself (voiced by Julia Pott), who looks to retrieve a lost memory. Over the short’s 17 minute runtime, it manages to say more than films with ten times the runtime, covering love and loss and existence over galaxies and time.

Watch World of Tomorrow on Netflix

This past week, Hertzfeldt returned with a sequel, World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts, for a somehow even less deserving Earth. This time, with more unscripted recordings from his niece (who was five when recorded in December 2014), Emily is visited by another clone of herself, who currently serves as a backup of the original Emily’s consciousness, but wishes to free herself of that in order to live an independent life. This time, the 22-minute film delves into the subconscious of both Emily-s, The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts reinforces the first film’s message about living in the present, while also exploring other, more complex themes, all while being disarmingly funny, thoughtful and ambitious, and all within the runtime of a standard TV sitcom. While the first episode is available on Netflix, Episode 2 is available to rent from Vimeo; both are essential viewing, some of my favorite films in recent memory and both are well worth your time.