Its Such a Beautiful Day (Don Herzfeldt, 2011): USA

Reviewed by Jesse Deason. Viewed at the Santa Barbara film festival 2012.

I walked away from this animated short with a wonderful new perspective on perspective. How can stick figure animation be so beautifully touching? By using this simplest of forms of animation director Don Hertzfeldt is able to bring unbelievable contrast and depths of perspective. Hertzfeldts narration is spot on and sets the bar high. He has a dark sense of humor that is incredibly easy to connect with. This was the first time I’ve been exposed to this storyteller and can’t wait to be taken on other journeys which is just what this gem represents.

Perspective is is not an overused word in this case. Don Hertzfeldt gives us a view into the shattered mind of someone who has apparently suffered a debilitating brain injury as we initially find our main character (Bill) in a hospital. He can’t clearly recognise people who are intimately acquainted with him such as his girlfriend and family. He sees the world from a point of reference not often addressed and almost never presented first person in a way easily understood. There’s a scene where our character is allowed to go home from the hospital. One fine day he decides to go out for a walk around the block which seems simple enough. But because his mind is still damaged he slips into auto repeat mode and each time he finds himself back where he started he thinks he just walked out his front door for the first time and repeats the process ad infitum. Again its presented in a way that demands a dark laugh even though we’re incredibly sympathetic to Bill’s plight. We’re truly taken on a journey, a beautiful journey just like the title implies in this animated short which represents the third film in our main character Bill’s journey.

There’s not enough praise I can scream from the hilltops about this beautiful film. Far and away this was the best short film of the 2012 festival here in Santa Barbara and I feel privileged to have experienced it on the big screen. Don Hertzfeldt has done a brilliant job here and has presented something for us that is truly special. Young and old can and will appreciate what he’s done here and I highly recommend experiencing this wonderful little film.

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