If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow and simply want to know if the sequel is good. Yes, it is. It’s very, very good. And I highly recommend to go into it totally blank other than the knowledge of the first film.
[Click here to see io9's statement on this year’s Fantastic Fest.]
If for some reason you want to know a bit more about the insanity that Hertzfeldt has come up with for another romp in this insane world, by all means, continue to read more below.
But first, let’s address another group. The group of people who maybe have no idea what I’m talking about. Two years ago, animator Don Hertzfeldt made a scifi masterpiece with the first World of Tomorrow, an animated short about multiple versions of the same person meeting each other, inspired by audio of his young niece. It’s on Netflix and you should watch it, like, now. This is the sequel, which explores the nature of being even further, with even more audio from his niece.
Now onto some minor spoilers.
It’s actually kind of funny to call what follows “spoilers” because trying to explain what happens in World of Tomorrow Episode Two, subtitled The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts. is basically impossible. The basic gist, I think ,after one viewing, is that Emily Prime (the young, main girl from the first film) is still living her life when she’s visited by Emily 6, one of many back up clone copies that Emily 3, the older character in the first movie, had stored in deep space when she realized the world was going to end. But Emily 6 is incomplete and her visit to Emily Prime is to try and elicit some of her memories to make her a more complete Emily. However, trying to extract memories from Emily Prime quickly turns into a literal journey through the mind first of Emily 6, then Emily Prime, visiting a whole bunch of wild, impossible places.
World of Tomorrow Episode Two is way more dense than Episode One, if you can believe it. And part of that is because Hertzfeldt has made a much more visually vibrant film than the last one. There are tons of textures and colors throughout, making the whole thing feels that much more like a sequel. A new version of the original with more of what you expect, but in even bigger and weirder ways. And as the journey keeps going on, more and more things happen that open up not just the nature of Emily, but of existence and the universe itself.
I didn’t think it would be possible for Hertzfeldt to make a worthy follow up to World of Tomorrow but The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts is definitely that. It feels different, for sure, but melts your mind in very much the same way. And after the film, Hertzfeldt strongly suggested this won’t be the last World of Tomorrow film. He hinted he could keep the whole thing episodic, like Boyhood, and trace his niece as she gets older. Or he suggested Episode Three may not feature Emily at all. That’s because a few of the new characters and concepts introduced in Episode Two were done so specifically to explore later.
All of which is to say, the World of Tomorrow is alive and thriving.