Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"World of Tomorrow"

So, our Saturday night Cthulhu game didn't come together this week, so Janice and I joined up with Steve Stan Brown to see a collection of Oscar-nominated anime shorts showing in a local theatre. As always with such things it was a mixed bag, but there was more good than bad and on the whole I'm glad we made it. The standout piece, which I really wd have been sorry to have missed, was called "The World of Tomorrow": the story of a four-year-old girl visited via time-travel by a clone descendent of clones of her future self. The future clone is an adult, and the way a story like this wd typically play out wd be for the future self to describe the wonders of the future to her primitive modern-day self. Except that we're not too far into the revelations before we come to realize not just how horrific these wonders are in human terms and that Future Emily is, not to put too fine a point on it, nuts. The little girl is far more human and, in an odd way, more mature than the adult from the future, who comes across as a more and more piteous the more we hear about her life story -- and all the more so because the Adult Emily has almost no self-awareness of how damaged and diminished her humanity is. And, while I didn't think about it at the time, I'm sure the deliberately simplistic art of the animation was to evoke what the story wd look like if little Emily drew it.

This is the kind of story Bradbury wd have done well, and I think he'd have recognized it as fitting firmly within his legacy.  I like Bradbury, and I also enjoy stories that follow their own logic, even into absurdity and beyond, as this one does. So it follows that I liked this one quite a lot. Recommended: but be warned that the next-to-last scene is devastating in context. It was a total surprise that immediately made perfect sense; a hard trick but stunningly effective when pulled off.

As I said, there were other good pieces in this assemblage: the Russian-made "We Can't Live Without Cosmos", the story of two astronauts training for a mission, is also good, if a little long. But "World of Tomorrow" was definitely the standout.

--John R.

1 comment:

N.E. Brigand said...

Yes! "World of Tomorrow" is so wonderful, and I hope it wins on Sunday. I've been a fan of Don Hertzfeldt's work since catching his "Billy's Balloon" (1998) in an anthology a couple years later. That short is now available on Youtube; I've always thought it would work nicely in a program with Albert Lamorisse's short "The Red Balloon" (1957) and M. Night Shyamalan's feature The Sixth Sense (1999).