By Mikah Wolanski (April 19th, 2018)
Directed by: Christopher Angus
Written by: Christopher Angus
Produced by: Christopher Angus
Animated by: Christopher Angus
The advancement of modern-technology over the past few decades has been nothing short of exemplary. What humans are able to do now – with the existence of newfound technologies like the internet – would have never even have been considered possible just a generation ago. This bears the question, if we’ve achieved so much advancement in such a short period of time, what will the future look like for the human race? And with our quickly-distancing relationship with the natural world, what effect will this have on our planet and our connection to it?
Canadian animator and filmmaker Christopher Angus tackles these questions in his recent 2018 animated short Futureworld. The film opens with a group of elders discussing the classic “in my day” recount of the trials and tribulations they faced as children - how life had been so much harder yet they still claim them to be “the good ole days”. The film then transports us to a common current day scenario – a man sitting on the couch preparing to watch some TV. The dark, colorless living room exudes a boring, sterile presence to the scene, with nothing but a small potted flower and a scenic wall-mounted picture offering any connection to the outside world. The audience is then sucked into the program the couch-dwelling man has sat down to enjoy, a program which will throw us into Angus’ take on what the future may someday look like, where our obsession with technology has entirely trumped over our desire to connect with nature and with each other.
The first thing that I noticed when watching Futureworld was Angus’ unique animation style. His characters are visually eccentric and incredibly interesting to look at. Their movements and looks are exuberant, adding a certain comedic feel to the overall tone of the film. This worked phenomenally, as the animation style alone forced me to become instantly entertained and entranced. These characters are simply fun to watch, and they offer a stark joyful contrast to the serious topic that the film covers. I can confidently say I’d enjoy watching these characters far past the films 7 minute run-time.
Aside from the specific animation style, Angus does a fantastic job of painting us a world of the future, a world which is colorless, joyless and in many ways, frightening. It’s clear this was done for a specific reason. Futureworld sets out to prove a point that yes, technology can do great things, but don’t let it get too far out-of-hand or else you may lose sight of the beauty around you. And boy, it’s effective. Seeing Angus’ world of the future makes you want to turn back time – go back to that opening scene where the elders are discussing their days as kids, where grass is green and air is fresh. This is a testament to Angus’ skillful world design. He’s effectively able to emote these sentiments onto the viewer, having the point of the film come across without explicitly needing to say anything. It’s fun, it’s effective, and it’s an all around eye-opening experience.
Futureworld achieves so many things in it’s extremely short 7 minute run-time. It makes you laugh while simultaneously making you seriously think and reflect on your relationship with technology and the environment. One could say this is a highly entertaining public service announcement - telling you to put down your phones and enjoy the beauty of the world while you still can. I find a film has succeeded if it had an effect on its viewer, and this film without question had a profound effect on me. Thanks to Futureworld, I pledge that I will be spending less time dazed and engrossed by technology and more time appreciating the wonders and the beauty of the nature around me – and I urge you to do the same.
- Mikah Wolanski