FEATURING: Don Hertzfeldt (narration)
PLOT: In the first chapter, “Everything Will Be OK,” delusions and hallucinations caused by an unspecified mental disorder impede the progress of stick figure Bill’s everyday life and leave him in and out of the hospital. Bill begins chapter 2, “I Am So Proud of You,” with flashbacks to his childhood, although his memories of his equally insane relatives are so strange that they may also be hallucinations. In chapter 3, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” Bill is again recuperating in the hospital, now with major memory loss, but with an impulse to visit an address he vaguely recalls.
- The character of Bill initially appeared in Don Hertzfeldt’s brief webcomic series “Anesthetics.” The strip foreshadowed the surreal humor of the early parts of the film, but did not suggest that Bill was suffering from mental illness.
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day is the feature-length compilation version of a series of medium-short films, beginning with “Everything Will Be OK” in 2006 and followed by “I Am So Proud of You” in 2008 before the final installment, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” arrived in 2011.
- Hertzfeldt photographed the movie in 35mm so that optical effects could be mixed with the animation.
- “Everything Will Be OK” won the Sundance Grand Prize for Short film on its release.
- Hertzfeldt launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to release It’s a Beautiful Day on Blu-ray along with World of Tomorrow and other selected shorts.
- Voted #16 on Time Out’s 2016 poll of the 100 Best Animated Movies Ever Made and #1 on File Stage’s 2016 list of Best Animated Films of the Twentieth Century So Far.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: The is movie is a continuous progression of images… most of them of black and white stick figures, although they are often grotesquely entertaining stick figures with monstrous fish heads growing out of their skulls. The most memorable effects mix Hertzfeldt’s line animation with real life photography. We picked one of Bill standing on a mesa gazing at a sunset, but you might prefer the scene of he and his stick girlfriend lying in the grass looking up at a canopy of leaves, or when he walks down the street and the pedestrians flicker back and forth between flesh and blood people and line figures. These sequences suggest inadequate fantasy wrestling with flawed perception, one of the movie’s major themes.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Fishy brain tumor; snake-necked cosmic stickman; immortal schizophrenic
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Humble stick figure animation mixes with advanced experimental film techniques in this chronicle of the life of a character suffering from an unspecified mental illness. It’s Such a Beautiful Day‘s juxtaposition of the mundane and the cosmic caused some critics to hail it as a less pretentious, less humorless answer to The Tree of Life. Don Hertzfeldt would continue to examine the themes introduced here—the prominence and arbitrariness of memory, the mixture of sadness and wonder that make up life—in his next piece, the Oscar-nominated World of Tomorrow. I believe Tomorrow goes down as Hertzfeldt’s masterpiece so far—at 41 years of age, he still has a long way to go—but It’s Such a Beautiful Day is nearly its equal, and is a better fit for this List due to its feature-length, surrealistic humor, and far-out hallucination scenes that suggest the final moments of 2001 reimagined by a team led by and Charles Schultz.
Trailer for It’s Such a Beautiful Day
COMMENTS: Although It’s Such a Beautiful Day is technically a compendium of three short films developed over a period of five years, it Continue reading 334. IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (2011)