Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 226 - Life in a Day

Life in a Day (2011) directed by Kevin Macdonald

Life in a Day is a representative look at the world we live in in more ways than one. First it is literally about the world we live in as it chronicles the daily lives of people all around the world that takes place on one single day, July 24, 2010. Secondly how the footage was filmed and obtained is a process of the world we live in today thanks to technology and the levels of collaboration that it has created. A film like this would never have been possible even five years ago. Virtually all the footage was taken from YouTube users, over 4500 hours of video from 80,000 submissions across 192 countries. What is the film about? Basically us.

The film begins in the early morning and we are shown clips of people all around the world of people waking up, brushing their teeth, going to the bathroom, eating eggs for breakfast. This film is all about unifying people by showing us we are all the same. We have the same mundane routines, we have the same loving relationships with others, we all put our pants on one leg at a time, as the saying goes. There are, of course interesting individual stories that gain a little more attention. One of the early scenes is a heartbreaking one involving the morning ritual of a Japanese father and his young son. They live in a cramped messy apartment with pictures of a woman adorning the living space. They burn incense at an alter for the woman, the wife and mother, and we realize that the father and son are coping with loss. Perhaps the most symbolic subject of the film is a Korean man who has been biking around the world for the past ten years. He's been to over 190 countries, seen all the different faces of the world and has a dream of one day unifying North and South Korea.

There is no real rhythm to the film. It jumps from country to country, story to story. One moment it follows a young South American boy who shine shoes, the next an old couple are renewing their vows in the funniest and most light hearted moment of the film. We are taken to war torn Afghanistan, then we are shown an anxious wife back home prettying herself up to video chat with her husband who is a soldier half a world away. People are asked simple questions like, "What do you have in your pocket?", "What do you love the most?" and "What is your biggest fear?" Ghosts, zombies, being alone and death seem to be universal answers to the latter.

Being entirely composed of YouTube content there are some pretty amazing videos as well, including a close up of a hand capturing a fly and then releasing it outside where we can see it fly away. The highlight of the film to me was an incredible sky diving scene that would be impressive for a professional cameraman let alone a user submitted video.

The day itself isn't really relavant. It could have been any day of the year and that is the point. Interesting and not so interesting things happen every day in the world. We can find simple pleasure in the mundane, in knowing that someone out there may be doing the exact same thing you are doing. We are never truly alone. Life in a Day is a very interesting concept for a film. Never before have so many different people collaborated in such a project, though this type of work is already part of the world we live in today as the world flattens. Today a man from Sri Lanka may be as close to you as your next door neighbor thanks to the Internet and other technologies.

Grade: B

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