Let me start this review off by saying that I sincerely love Don Hertzfeldt’s work. If you’ve been on the weird side of YouTube long enough, you’ve probably run into The Animation Show, Rejected Cartoons, Billy’s Red Balloon, or Genre. These are all perfect examples of the nature of Don’s animations: They’re surreal, goofy, oftentimes profoundly dark, yet great fun to watch and re-watch. It’s Such a Beautiful Day is comprised of three contiguous short animations strung together to create a feature length film, and what a film it is. Between the enchanting classical musical score and the simple, charming animation style that mixes pencil drawing and video, It’s Such a Beautiful Day is most assuredly one of Don Hertzfeldt’s finest works.
Bill’s tale is one of decay; descent from normality into insanity into death at the hands of a nameless genetic illness buried inside his brain. Heavily narrated by Don himself, you experience and explore the intimate nuances of Bill’s life, from his daily chores to his whimsical ponderings. As his condition worsens, you also learn of his mother, his grandmother, and other ancestors who also share his condition. While not terribly complex, the whole tale is intriguing and strangely uplifting, bringing to mind a certain word: Sonder, which is the realization that every single human being on Earth has a life as complex and vivid as your own.
Even if you’re not keen on having a life-changing epiphany at the hands of a delightfully abstract animation, you can still enjoy the ride. That’s part of the symbolism, anyway: Even if you don’t grasp the profundity of the film, it’s still going to end. Just like life! Not Bill’s life, though. The narrator loves Bill too dearly and refuses to let him go, sparking a very inspiring concluding section about Bill’s life as an immortal. Between that and letting him succumb to his condition, I much prefer the former.
Glenn Heath Jr. of LittleWhiteLies articulates his thoughts on It’s Such a Beautiful Day much better than I have, and praises it in a way that is much more befitting, given the philosophical quality of the film. The surreal nature of Hertzfeldt’s work makes it a little difficult to describe linearly, so check out the LittleWhiteLies review through here. I do hope you end up watching It’s Such a Beautiful Day. It may well change your perspective on life.