The third entry in our series on the 2016 Academy Award Nominated Shorts focuses on World of Tomorrow, arguably the weirdest short of the five as well as the simplest in terms of animation style. However, in my opinion, it’s also the best.
World of Tomorrow is about a little girl named Emily. Emily seems to be probably only two or three. The short opens with Emily receiving a call on some sort of futuristic video phone device. She’s so young that she doesn’t know how to answer it and sort of bangs on it, making all sorts of baby noises. When she hits the correct button, a woman appears and tells her that she is calling from the future. She tells Emily that she’s a third generation clone of Emily herself and has been uploaded with Emily’s memories, as well as the memories of the previous clones.
After explaining the process by which she is contacting young Emily in the past, the clone tells her about a new form of time travel. This form of time travel can bring people to different points in time. She will use it to bring Emily to the future. Instantly Emily Prime finds herself in a vast sea of color and shapes. The Emily clone tells her that they are in what is known as the “Outernet,” the future’s version if the Internet.
There in the future, Clone Emily takes Emily Prime back through her memories. She tells her about her jobs, her loves, and, ultimately, her true love, another clone named David. David eventually died, but he was not re-cloned. This action left Emily unable to deal with the loss. She tells Emily Prime that she sometimes sits alone at night and quietly feels very bad. She is quite proud of her sadness, because it means she is more alive.
Eventually the clone confesses the real reason that she contacted Emily and brought her to the future. The world is about to end, and she has forgotten something. Whatever this memory is, she believes that it will bring her comfort in the terrible days to come. She brings out a device and uses it to retrieve the memory from Emily Prime; a simple memory of walking with her mother. After taking the memory, she sends Emily back home.
This short was amazing. When it first started and there was nothing except this weird looking little line drawing, I was not very impressed. I did not hold out much hope for something that looked so primitive. Then the characters started talking. The dialogue was deep and complex, but very funny. The humor was quite dark, but still, in a weird way, kind of lighthearted.
The story itself was not a funny one. I didn’t go into too much detail so as not to spoil it for those of you who have not seen it, but the future world that this short presents is not a fun one. It’s littered with darkness and death. And yet, like I said before, it’s still very funny.
Since the art style is so rudimentary everything else needs to work double time to make up for it, and it certainly does. While the drawings and animations themselves are simple, the backgrounds are dynamic and colorful, weird but beautiful.
And all this is saying nothing of the sound effects and music. The sound design on this short was amazing! Everything had little sounds to go with it, and everything sounded just perfect. All the futuristic sound effects were amazing. The music was wonderful too. There was not too much, but what was there was just a beautifully simple symphony playing in the background when something meaningful happened. It really helped set the mood, and I loved it.
As great as everything in this short is, it’s the voice acting that really sells this whole thing. The dry delivery of the Emily clone, and the cheerful, innocent delivery of Emily Prime – who was obviously voiced by an actual toddler – just made everything work. The juxtaposition of the clone Emily as she explained something really dark, like that shooting stars are dead clones falling from space, with this innocent little girl completely not understanding and gasping about how pretty the shooting stars are (and proceeding to count them as they fall) was just hilarious.
I loved everything about World of Tomorrow. Even with what some might consider to be flaws, it’s still a fantastic film with a ton of rewatchablity. Of the five films competing at the Academy Awards, if I were picking the winner, I would have to give it to this one. It is one of the most original stories I’ve ever seen. It’s packed full of more brilliant ideas than most other full-length sci-fi films, and it’s just so unique. It’s odd but charming, dark but funny, and simple but beautiful.
Other reviews in this series:
Boy and the World
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
All the Academy Award nominated animated shorts, including World of Tomorrow, are be available for digital purchase on iTunes, Amazon Video, and Vimeo on Demand, among others. In addition, World of Tomorrow is available to watch on Netflix.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes