July 19, 2011

"Life in a Day"

YouTube's brain child: a 'Baraka' for this decade?

In 2010 Youtube celebrated its fifth birthday, and wanted to mark the occasion.  After recruiting Oscar winner Kevin MacDonald ("Touching the Void") as director, and Hollywood legend Ridley Scott ("Alien" etc.) as producer, people from all around the globe were invited to film their life on 24th of July 2010, and upload it onto YouTube.  These disparate days-in-the-life would be edited together, and a feature film would be created.

I went into this film with low expectations, but after 10 minutes found myself riding a wave of sound bites and dazzling imagery.  This doco reminded me of another film: the cinematographer's-wet-dream "Baraka".  There's no conventional plot, stunning shots depict life on earth and are accompanied by amazing music.  However, because it's shot by hundreds of normal people, "Life in a Day" becomes an unique twist on the genre that "Baraka" spawned.

On screen, people wake up, brush their teeth, and go about their daily life.  The resulting montage of birth, love, friendship, illness, death, fear, and quirky stories has the visual and anthropological richness of those non-verbal films, but brings humour and emotion into the equation.

For me it was an anthropological study on two levels.  As I viewer I was engrossed in the visual rhythms, but as a film maker I loved observing the different take each participant had on the project, and figuring out how it was all put together.  There seems to have been a detailed brief that had questions like "What do you fear?", "What do you love?", and the competitive creativity of each film maker oozed through their shots.  Some submissions were filmed on a mobile phone, some were on a computer camera, and some were obviously professional film makers probably hoping to be noticed by Mac Donald or Scott (that's what I would've been hoping ;) ).

My only criticism is that the ending was a bit weak, but it didn't take away from the rest of the film.   Having participated in a similar project a few years ago, I recognise how difficult a task Mac Donald was set, and I applaud him for creating something beautiful from lots of random rubbish ;)

The film is being released by National Geographic on the 24th of July 2011 - exactly one year after it was filmed.  Definitely one to watch on a big screen.

See "Baraka" here.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting read and well written, enjoyed hearing your take on it.

Yolanda Barker said...

Thanks Anon! :)

Ruth said...

I adored Life in a Day, watched it when it was streamed on Youtube. We were studying documentaries the very next semester so it was of particular interest to me in that regard. Great review :)

Neil.White said...

Hi Yola,

Thanks for your comments of my blog, everyfilmin2011. Yours are really interesting and a lot deeper and cleverer than mine.



Chris said...

I just reviews Life in a Day, was a good idea for a doc. I enjoyed watching, but was draining to sit through so many compiled moments. Agree that it reflets the diversity of people all around the world. The beauty of the doc is that each person takes something different away from the experience.

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