It made for a deceptively vital change of context when cult animator Don Hertzfeldt strung together four of his award-winning cartoons into the feature-length portmanteau It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Continuity is key to these shorts, which collectively create a heroic epic out of the violent hallucinatory memories and daydreams of Bill, a depressive and possibly fatally ill stick figure. In the short films “Everything Is OK,” “I Am So Proud of You,” and “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” Bill’s attempts to process his pain and the inexplicable minutiae of his daily routine allow Hertzfeldt to examine both traumatizing fears of death and the absurd joy of life. Bill thinks about bacteria-infested crotches at the supermarket, sees a dead bird besieged by ants on the sidewalk, passes out with alarming regularity, and remembers the past lives of family members, like the younger, hook-handed brother who died chasing a seagull. And as Bizet, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, and Wagner swell on the soundtrack, and Hertzfeldt’s omniscient but probably not omnipotent narrator lays out events, Bill’s life alternatively shrinks and expands to individual moments that collapse into one another. Warped keyhole-size images stack atop one another in a Frankenstein-ian collage that evokes the films of Terrence Malick, David Lynch, Stan Brakhage, and Bruce Conner. Seeing “the years [slip] out of [Bill’s] head” in this 71-minute compendium is nothing short of revelatory.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 3, 2012