With the advent of social media, there has been a call against posting about every mundane activity. What benefit is it that your followers know that you have to do laundry or homework is annoying? A pinch of humor or commentary can make anything worth reading, but sometimes the purity of the act can stand on its own.
The documentary “Babies” just showed babies hanging out for the duration. It was such a simple movie that it may have posed as a screensaver instead of an actual film. “Life in a Day” defies everything I have written so far. The reason it succeeds is because its scope is more substantial than Twitter followers and four different babies.
Director Kevin McDonald (“The Last King of Scotland” ) teamed up with Ridley and Tony Scott to create this documentary experiment. They asked the world to submit videos of what they did on July 24th, 2010. People from 192 countries submitted over 80,000 videos, which resorted to thousands of hours of footage. Through an incredible team of editors, this was boiled down to a smooth 95-minute film.
The day is told chronologically as it begins with a montage of people waking up from all around the world. Its regularity is what makes it all so special. The various ways where people brush their teeth is irrationally amusing. Most of the movie is showing the connectedness in the world as similar tasks are done throughout the planet.
Some of the clips provide more of a context for the recorder’s life. The longest one is a youth who tells his female friend his true feelings about her. His optimistic narration provided a wonderful guide as love was seen from a variety of couples. It seems that the only questions McDonald asked the participants if “What do you love?” and “What scares you?” I don’t know what it is about a personal video recorder, but it allows people to become very vulnerable. Perhaps it’s because it’s hard to imagine how many people will actually end up seeing their self-recorded ramble.
It isn’t just the mundane that is romanticized, but some people did fascinating things on July 24th. The skydiving sequence was breathtaking, the slaughterhouse was brutal, and no matter what day it is, there will be dancing. The only time the movie loses focus of focusing on the magic of individuals is when it tries to make a point with its editing. Cutting back and forth from riding a roller coaster to scenes of war seems to pass judgment on the different forms of fears.
Aside from those few moments of departure, “Life in a Day” is a delightful movie that highlights the wonders of the differences and similarities of the billions of people who surround us.
The extras include interviews with the filmmakers, a director’s commentary, an editor’s commentary, and additional footage. My disc didn’t have the bonus features on it, but I would be really interested in the editor’s commentary—something that isn’t often put on a disc but would provide great insight with this topic.
Film: 4 Yaps