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Film Mon Feb 27 2012
While many know of Don Hertzfeldt by his humorously violent animated shorts, the Academy Award-nominated animator has spent the past six years working on a more serious, heartfelt trilogy of animated films centering around the mental deterioration of a man named Bill. Hertzfeldt has finally completed the final chapter of his critically-acclaimed Everything will be OK trilogy and his greatest and most ambitious work to date with It's such a beautiful day.
The film certainly lives up to its title: the animation is gorgeous. Captured on an antique 35mm animation stand, Hertzfeldt's trademark stick figure human drawings are mixed with photographs, live video, optical effects, and hybrid digital/film techniques to create a mesmerizing blend of visual styles. It's such a beautiful day is a major evolution in the animated style of his previous works - the colors are brighter, the palette of textures is wider, and the actual animation is smoother and fully-fleshed out. I was particularly impressed the animation during the last third - there are some very sharp contrasts in settings, and Hertzfeldt managed to create a distinct visual space for each of them.
The story continues to explore the main character Bill's struggles to cope with his own memory loss and decreasing mental faculties, and the plot goes into some dark, melancholy directions, but Hertzfeldt's trademark humor shines throughout. Like the previous two films, Hertzfeldt continues to narrate and animate Bill's journey in a way that brings out painfully honest observations on the mundane details of life, while carefully drawing the viewer into seeing the world from Bill's eyes. The plot of It's such a beautiful day further explores ideas and themes mentioned in the previous chapters, and the ending unfolds in a way previously hinted in Everything will be OK that provides a satisfactory and fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
Utlimately, It's such a beautiful day is an amazing visual trip with a deeper message about the nature of memory, time, perception, and the ways we filter and internalize the world without even realizing it. Quite frankly, it's one of the most impressive animated short films I've ever seen.
It's such a beautiful day will premiere in Chicago during An Evening With Don Hertzfeldt at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) for one-night only on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $12 and can be bought online or in person.