My Advice: Take It or Leave It
I’m not giving you advice because I think I know it all and want to tell you what to do. I am no authority, but I want to share with you three movies that I think will have an impact on you personally and on your worldview.
I must warn you that these movies are not the type of films you are most likely to watch or to perhaps have even heard of.
Each of these films, in part or in whole, are available free on You Tube, so I encourage you to watch them. There are movies we watch one time and we enjoy them and remember scenes and dialogue from those films for years, but they ultimately have only a minor impact on us. Yet there are some movies we watch again and again because they are so enjoyable or because their message bears repeating. The three movies I recommend are of that variety.
These movies have no plot, no actors, and no scripted dialogue. They are not musicals, but the music is beautifully choreographed to make images and music mesh together to create an important message and an exciting experience.
My reason for making these recommendations is so that you too may experience what I have while watching these films, that you may be so moved by these films that you develop a new worldview, that you see/hear the unspoken messages in these films, that you may recognize yourself or those you know in the faces of the people in these films.
These filmmakers have used cinematic techniques and the unexpected to wake you up so you will see the world around you. The cinematography creates dissonance to make you uncomfortable so that you will pay attention to the message.
So here we go:
Koyaanisqatsi is the first in a trilogy of experimental films produced by Godfrey Reggio and edited by Ron Fricke. The film illustrates many contrasts: nature and modern life, life in other countries, the faces of people from around the world. The use of slow motion encourages you to pay attention to the faces of the people featured in this montage of faces, into glimpses of the lives of people we usually don’t notice or see.
Koyaanisqatsi is a message to its viewers to see what is happening in the world today. It warns us against the violence we perpetrate against nature. It warns us against the speed of modern life and the barrage of information we receive daily.
Now, there are always some people who may turn the film off without giving it a chance because it makes them uncomfortable, yet I challenge you to watch the full film. Please let this film help guide your thinking about life and how quickly it is moving and what is most important in life.
Baraka is a documentary film directed and photographed by Ron Fricke who says it is “a guided mediation on humanity” . The director, Mark Magidson, says “The goal of the ﬁlm was to reach past language, nationality, religion and politics and speak to the inner viewer” .
The film portrays various religious rituals. Humans have developed different ways to express their beliefs. Whether it is a book or prayers or singing or incense or dance, humans find ways to express their devotion or attempts to connect with the Divine.
There are some scenes that make us uncomfortable. Most people do not want to think of people suffering while they work at mindless, endless jobs in China or while scavenging for anything of value at a massive dump in the Philippines.
The film forces us to look into the eyes of people we are unlikely to encounter in our daily lives, and each face tells a story the viewer may or may not want to hear. Yet it impossible not to be moved by the film and it will make us want to watch some parts again and again.
The last of the three films I recommend is Human (2015).
While I have watched the first two films multiple times, the film Human by French environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand is new to me. I happened upon it on You Tube and was mesmerized by it.
It belongs with Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka because of its focus on nature and humans, but this time, we don’t just see the faces, the faces speak. They have a message for us that we don’t have to discern through visual images. They tell us what it means to be human: the hurt, the loss, the pain, the love, marriage, divorce, identity.
Though the faces come from around the world, they represent humanity, not a country, not an ethnicity, not a religion, none of the things that divide us, but instead the things that make us all one as human.
If you decide to watch these films, I would like to hear your thoughts on the films as art and how they affected you.