It’s Such a Beautiful Day: An Animation Masterpiece

It’s Such a Beautiful Day is an animated film from 2012 made up of a trilogy of animated shorts: 2006’s Everything Will Be OK, 2008’s I Am So Proud of You, and 2011’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day. All three shorts were created by Don Hertzfeldt, who is better known as the creator of the Academy Award nominated cult classic short Rejected. While Rejected (which you can watch here) is a great short, It’s Such a Beautiful Day should be held in the same regard, if not, even higher.

“I don’t know about you folks, but I could lose my keys eatin’ breakfast.”

The film, which consists of three chapters and clocks in at just under an hour, tells the story of Bill, a forty-something white-collar worker with an unidentified brain condition (presumably a tumor.) Throughout the course of the film, Bill has increasingly horrific hallucinations, non-linearly recounts the details of both his childhood and day-to-day life, and tries to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend, all while gradually losing both his short-term and long-term memory.

The first thing to note about the film is the method of storytelling. There is almost no direct dialogue, save for a few brief instances. Instead, a narrator (voiced by Don Hertzfeldt) provides a third person subjective narrative that shifts into free indirect style, meaning that not only does the narrator give descriptions of Bill’s (and sometimes other minor characters) thoughts and actions, he also speaks for the characters when they talk. This is all done in a deadpan matter, rarely showing any emotion, no matter how bizarre the events of the film get.

Another thing to note is the animation style. Almost the entire film takes place on a blank white background populated only by plot-important objects and characters that amount to little more than stick figures with round bodies. This world is viewed through “windows,” or, more accurately, small holes in some sort of covering that is placed on a 35mm camera. Interspersed throughout the film (mostly in the third chapter) are mixed media, showing real life photographs and video footage of nature and urban settings.

The first two chapters contain much of the absurdist humor that Hertzfeldt is known for. For example, during chapter two, the narrator recounts how almost every member of Bill’s family contracting a deadly illness, only to die from being hit by a train. During the last chapter, this humor gradually turns into something beautiful as Bill realizes how much beauty there is in his ordinary, mundane life.

In conclusion, I feel like this movie is an underappreciated masterpiece. At time of writing, it currently ranks as not only my favorite animated film, but also my fifth favorite film of all time. You can watch the first seventeen minutes here, or you can buy the Blu-ray (which also includes a few of Hertzfeldt’s other shorts, including two Academy Award nominated ones) at his website.

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