Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Life in a Day

Life in a Day (2011) is an experimental film of sorts. YouTube announced the project on 6th July 2010 by asking its users to submit films of themselves on 24th July 2010. It was produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin MacDonald, so not only was it ambitious but it was definitely taking itself seriously.

Now, this could have gone one of two ways; a poignant, funny and eye-opening look at what people deem important in their lives, or a pretentious United Colours of Benetton advert (yes, they still exist).

I am somewhat pleased to say that it definitely fell into the former category and the hour and a half seemed to whiz by in no time. Despite the 4,500 hours of footage from around 140 countries, the editors and director have done the impossible by creating a strong narrative throughout.

And it doesn’t just fall into the pattern of following expectant mothers, then babies, then children until the inevitable shot of an old man in a hospital bed; but it also makes a pretty compelling story out of the everyday routines we all take for granted.

That isn’t to say that the filmmakers ignore the dramatic, as to do so with such a project would be stupid of them. Something quite significant happened on that day, and we’re taken through the chaos. We see the family with a son struggling to come to terms with his mother’s illness, the young woman who is trying to find herself and the man telling his grandmother some very important news. But this is all interspersed with the shots of people just waking up; their faces in the mirror as they’re getting ready. And this is no bad thing. To have a constant barrage of ‘important’ moments thrown at you would have missed the point of it all. Life doesn’t always have to be significant or meaningful and this film manages to convey that beautifully.

The cynics among you may find it all a bit tedious. Why do I need to see children frolicking on a beach when I can’t stand the sight of my own? Well, I will agree that some moments do feel forced and/or set up. It is not hard to see why people would want to be seen in a certain light or be defined by their actions or clever witticisms on screen. But these are in the minority (I can only recall one or two of them now) and apart from a roll of the eyes, they do not have enough of an impact to affect the whole.

This film set out to capture what it was like to be alive on that day, and put simply, it did a damn fine job. I truly believe that it will still be around in hundreds of years’ time, helping our descendants make out what the hell it is we were up to.

A very respectable 4 out of 5.

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