Watch a Great Short Film From Don Hertzfeldt, The Meaning of Life

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
March 5 2013 4:44 PM

Watch a Great Short Film From Don Hertzfeldt

A scene from The Meaning of Life.
A scene from The Meaning of Life.

Still from YouTube.

Animator Don Hertzfeldt may not have gotten the recognition he deserved for It’s Such a Beautiful Day, which was my pick for the best animated film of last year, but for those just discovering him there’s still a lot more material out there. This week the Sundance Screening Room has made his 2005 short The Meaning of Life available to stream in HD for one week only.

The Meaning of Life marks a transition from Hertzfeldt’s more strictly surrealist early shorts, like Billy’s Balloon and the Oscar-nominated Rejected, to his more existential work in It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Which is not to say you should come to The Meaning of Life expecting to find all the answers.

Along with the short, Sundance has uploaded the behind-the-scenes documentary “Watching Grass Grow.” The title is honest—not everyone will want to watch it from beginning to end—but the doc does convey a sense of the nearly four years of painstaking work it took to animate the 12-minute short. Whether imagining the silly sounds of aliens—it’s worth putting on a good pair of headphones to watch The Meaning of Life, by the way—or drawing dudes obsessed with fish sticks, Hertzfeldt is nothing if not dedicated.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.