Don Hertzfeldt’s “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” is a chilling, yet quirky dark comedy following the unfortunate life story of a man called Bill as his mental health begins to fail him.
The film is animated almost entirely traditionally using only a pencil, paper and a camera (with the occasional effect added through After Effects. This proves to extremely impressively animated as there is no computer software used so each frame is simply drawn by hand. This is then accompanied by only masking the shot to separate parts of the screen. This fits perfectly with the storytelling style of the film, giving the effect of a poorly drawn story book.
The storytelling of Beautiful Day is incredibly unique and creative. Hertzfeldt manages to develop a character that we both relate to and care for, without the use of any dialogue. The feature is told to coincide with Bill’s failing mental health, although this is never clearly stated. At the start of the film, Bill’s life is fairly normal and most things on screen play out similarly normally but as the film progresses, what happens on screen becomes more and more distorted in sync to how Bill perceives the world. We see characters with “aluminium hook arms” or with unusually long hair growing from their moles. Dialogue becomes more difficult to understand and in Bill’s worst moments, the pages that the frames are drawn on become ripped or distorted which illustrates the distress and confusion of his mental state. As the story progresses the events of Bill’s life become more and more bizarre and it becomes more and more obvious what is actually happening to him.
The soundtrack and sound design in the movie was near perfect. The start of the film starts with an unnerving bassy build up before plummeting into an orchestral soundtrack that unnerves the viewer in preparation for the story. The film’s use of silence not only adds to the creepy theme but also allows time for the viewer to process what it going on in the film, leaving them in a state of shock from the absurdity of many of the situations. These silences also add an unnatural pace to the film that helps the viewer to connect more with the protagonist, for example: in the scene where Bill is having trouble sleeping, the film goes silent for a few seconds to allow the viewer to experience the feeling of stillness and sleeplessness.
The pacing in this film is something unique and not often seen in anything else. Many scenes are drawn out far too long. This is Hertzfeldt’s was of illustrating how Bill is feeling at the time. There are scenes of a man blowing leaves at a bus stop which goes on for about a minute which is slowly paced to show Bill’s boredom of waiting for his bus, whereas there are other scenes where multiple shots are being shown on screen at once, often leaving the viewer not able to complete understand what is happening, and experience what Bill is feeling.
“It’s Such A Beautiful Day” is a unique watching experience for those interested in trying something new. It is both intellectually eye opening and humorous depending on how you watch it. Either way it will leaving you thinking differently to how you did before viewing and feeling like you have somewhat changed during the 62 minute runtime. I definitely recommend it to anyone seeking an unusual, strangely amusing film experience.