A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 151 – Home (2009)

Home (2009) – July 29th, 2010

We do enjoy documentaries, and ones about nature and the Earth are always interesting. I don’t think we own nearly enough documentaries, personally, so that’s one of my goals for our collection (along with getting some good Bollywood – any suggestions?). I feel like this is an episode of NOVA crossed with Koyanisqaatsi. It’s beautiful, but then having seen the writer/director Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s photography in books, I fully expected to be mesmerized by the visuals.

So let me start with the positive. Visually, this documentary is amazing. The arial footage is spectacular. The natural world footage, with its amazing colors and fascinating shapes, is almost startling, and I say this as someone raised on nature documentaries. I knew Arthus-Bertrand’s work already, and I knew he would go for arresting shots. There are some beautiful views of the Grand Canyon, and some absolutely stunning shots of salt evaporate islands in the Dead Sea that almost look computer generated. There’s a lot of talk of minerals early on, and so we get some simply astoundingly colored shots with earth colored by sulfur and iron and a variety of others. It’s beautiful. It’s truly a visual masterpiece and even more so when juxtaposed with the shots of human habitations and industry, then shots of the effects the latter has on the former.

To be honest, I think I’d have enjoyed it more on mute, with the Koyanisquaatsi soundtrack playing. The narration is full of information and statistics and science, and that’s all well and good. It’s very informative and certainly puts the visuals in context. But I get the feeling it’s largely preaching to the choir. Who is watching a documentary like this who doesn’t at least know the basics of what’s being explained? Do we need to be told “everything is linked” several times over? I can think of children’s novels that do it more gracefully. I’m not saying there’s not a valuable message here, I’m just saying that I think the people likely to pick this up are people who already know and care. I don’t know how productive it is for the audience for a documentary to be guilt-tripped. Over and over and over, since the narration seems to say the same thing several times in only slightly different phrasing.

We know this stuff. It’s horribly depressing. It’s overwhelming. It’s a morass of anxiety and depression-inducing bad news. And I know it all. Not the numbers, but I know which way the wind is blowing. I try not to dwell on it or I wouldn’t get up in the mornings. Yes, I get it. We’re parasites (Americans in particular). Thank you. The last fifteen minutes is devoted to pointing out that yeah, okay, while we suck and all, we’re working on things. The phrase “It is too late to be a pessimist” is repeated several times, trying to convince me that it hasn’t just spent almost two hours spouting some horribly pessimistic stuff. It’s not enough. It should have been worked into the rest of the movie, with each depressing segment buffered by information about what’s being done and what can be done in the future, but it wasn’t.

I wish there was an alternative soundtrack that gave the information without the guilt. That being said, it is a beautiful movie, as evidenced by the amazing end credits, which go through some fascinating images from all of the locations that were used in the filming, labeling each with the location the shots were taken in. It’s almost worth watching for the end credits alone. It’s really all far more effective to let the images speak for themselves.

July 29, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. You want Bollywood suggestions? I’ve got Bollywood suggestions.

    “Bride and Prejudice” is a good cross-over introduction to Bollywood conventions. If you like tear-jerking romantic dramas, “Veer-Zaara” is quite wonderful. If you’re into action movies, the Shah Rukh Khan remake of “Don” is unbeatable; check out the Amitabh Bachchan original if you’re into 1970’s action cheese (with maybe more cheese than action). And of course I have to mention one of my all-time favourite movies, “Om Shanti Om,” which, among other things, is a love letter to all things Bollywood.

    Comment by St. Emma | July 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you! We will definitely look for those.

      Comment by ajmovies | July 30, 2010 | Reply


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