November 27, 2011

DAS RAD (“The Wheel”)

A while ago I watched a short film by three Germans called “DAS RAD (The Wheel).”  Now, before you say “German films?  Nein, danke” and run into a cave, let me tell you, my friends, that it is quite entertaining and was even nominated for an Academy Award.

The stars are two rock piles, observing life on a hillside from ancient times through the present, and into the future.  The little film moves through time at high speed, like a time-lapse version of geological eras. When the modern world comes into view, the buildings appear and disappear in an instant, and was my favorite section.  And sometimes it switchesto real time and shows the inhabitants and objects in motion in their day-to-day existence.

If you have about nine minutes, check it out.  It is — how do you say? — “my cup of tea.”

September 21, 2011

Our Place in the Universe

The more I see as a human being, the bigger I want my films to be.  I yearn to make people understand themselves and the world in new ways.  I feel a kinship with the makers of JOURNEY OF THE UNIVERSE.  It blew my mind when I saw it.  (It’s showing on PBS this fall.)  I have no idea if I could ever make a film like this on my own, but it’s the kind of film I wish I’d made myself.

Brian Thomas Swimme is the subject, co-writer, and “host” of the film.  He’s an author and evolutionary philosopher.  He’s profoundly curious, thoughtful and engaging about life’s biggest questions, how we got to where we are and where we’re going.  The film is profound — sort of like WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW?  but a little bit more philosophical and professorial.

This film is big.  Huge, really, is the word.  Swimme (who co-wrote the film with other scientists and several Yale divinity professors ) connects big-picture issues in surprising ways.  There’s an accompanying book, which is equally worth reading.

The film takes place on the Greek island of Samos, the birthplace of ancient mathematician Pythagoras.  Swimme talks about cosmic evolution as a process based on immense creativity, connection, and interdependence. He connects the birth of the cosmos to discoveries about the human genome, to our impact on Earth in this period of ever-greater environmental and social crisis.

This film invites us to examine how we are woven into the web of life. It is designed to inspire a new and closer relationship with Earth

And it’s beautifully shot.

The bar is very high.

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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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