Halfway through watching What the #$*! Do We Know?!, I realized I was seeing a spritual recruitment film.
The movie promulgates a worldview based on eastern mysticism and quantum mechanics through a combination of talking head interviews, a loose narrative starring Marlee Matlin and CGI.
It was a really uncomfortable movie going experience. I'd been very petulant about going to see it in the first place and I realized that leaving in the middle would definitely cross the melodrama threshold. But still - I was squirmy, largely because I agreed with what was being said, but was dying at the way in which it was said.
Part educational filmstrip and part instructional video, the movie posits answers to the mysteries of life by invoking precepts such as be here now, visualize peace, see the divinity within and so on. These ideas are presented in short soundbytes from talking heads and go largely uncontextualized. (Well, the narrative part of the movie tries to shoulder some of the load here. But it's like the story in a health class video - it is slave to the message. Also, this whole part really sucks eggs from an execution standpoint.) As a result, these ideas come off as slogans or tips for happy living rather than what I feel they're meant to be - pointers to a transcendent truth.
The filmmakers make matters worse by poorly contextualizing these spiritual ideas in the study of modern physics. Throughout the movie, quantum mechanics is invoked as a talisman to bridge the gap between mysticism and reality. On the whole, this is, again, a line of thought to which I'm very sympathethic having really dug on Fritjof Capra's whole deal. But the Tao of Physics puts a lot of effort establishing the traditions of both eastern spirituality and western physics - as such the associations are rich and meaningful. In What the Bleep, they are completely superficial.
Of course, Fritjof had a whole book - maybe this stuff just can't be done in a movie. I don't think that's actually the case. Instead, I feel the film fails because it ends up flying over the propaganda line.
But, then again, Fahrenheit 9/11 was a propaganda film and I enjoyed it as such. What the Bleep is, similarly, an activist movie but the whole thing ends up eating itself precisely because of the spiritual truths it attemps to convey. The movie hammers away with soundbytes and hand wave-y science until the tone is one of pure dogma - which is just an awful thing to do to a philosophy that is completely un-dogmatic.Comments: Post a Comment