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Being Human
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Reviews & Ratings for
Being Human More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A good, thoughtful film

8/10
Author: docadams from Starkville
15 June 2004

This is one of those comfortable Sunday-afternoon-while-it's-raining films. It is one of Robin Williams more serious characters.

A little moody in places, the film offers reflections on what it might have been like to live at other times, as a sort of social history (no being a king or queen or royalty). The main character plays his life issues out through time, from ancient Rome, a Viking raid, a 16th or 17th century continental vagrant, to the present. Love, life's tragedies, children, and home are all themes. There is a light-heartiness to the film, and it plays on the contemporary character's life as it unfolds. Robin Williams turns in a typically great performance.

The themes and emotions all play in their times. Settings are as varied as the emotions. Sweet and sentimental, the movie captures and makes a statement about the human condition.

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24 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Give it a chance and you will find introspection

9/10
Author: abcetinkaya from Maryland
22 July 2004

I watched this movie when I was 21. Then again when I was 27 and every time I view it, it brings the point home even more: We are who we are even when we try not to be. Now, I'm looking for it on DVD and can't come across it :(

I don't know what else to say about the movie. I don't want to give away the story. Robin Williams character is the central figure in the vignettes of the storyline. Surprising supporting cast with excellent cameo performances from John Turturro, Vincent D'Onfrio, Hector Elizondo, Ewan McGregor, William H. Macy, Lorraine Bracco and more.

I only know that at times when I was at my most introspective, did I think of the world being smaller than what I was told and that maybe, we are bigger than we can imagine.

Being human is all we can be, for good or ill. Until the next life. A-

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece.

9/10
Author: Sergei_Esenin (Sergei_Esenin@yahoo.com) from Washington, D.C.
2 June 2002

Contrary to some negative reviews, this is neither a bad film nor one of Forsythe's "worst." Such criticism issues from the fact that this film is about the lives of ordinary people, with Robin Williams playing a succession of classic Everyman characters. As such, most people won't find it "entertaining" enough, particularly if they're of the gimme-gimme-now post-MTV generations. This film tells stories about small people, not notable ones, and the emotions which they feel.

*Being Human* is a slow and philosophical story--as the title suggests, it's a story about what it is to be human. Love, loss, slavery, hopelessness, faithfulness, lust, hope--all these themes are touched upon as the story moves throughout the ages, presenting us with various Everyman characters all played by Robin Williams in what are surely his best dramatic performances.

This film is much like *My Dinner with Andre*--a truly meaningful and important film which isn't meant to appeal to everyone, just a more intellectual crowd. Its unfortunate spate of negative reviews comes from the fact that, unlike *My Dinner with Andre*, it was targeted for broader public consumption with a fairly large theatrical release, and to this day plays on premium cable channels to audiences who want to be watching fast-paced blockbusters rather than introspections into our humanity.

If you can appreciate a film with a slower and more deliberate pace and real insights into humanity, watch *Being Human*. It's a masterpiece.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Excellent look at society

10/10
Author: steventemplar from Canada
9 February 2002

I thought this was an excellent film. Robin Willams takes the serious side of life and portrays it well. The most memorable part is during the pre-historic scene. His expression and utter helplessness when his family is taken away is something I will never forget.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A touching sequence of stories...

10/10
Author: Bahattin YILDIZ (bahai62@hotmail.com) from Ankara
10 October 2000

Well, I think everyone can find something about himself in this movie.Because it is the common story of humanity...We all face the same conditions(independent of time) in our life during the process of learning about courage, love, compassion, honesty and the similiar aspects of humanity. The story is told as a sequence of stories, each happening at a different time so that it emphasizes the same tragedy of humanity in all ages...The only different thing is the time parameter...Everything is just same apart from that... As a result I think the movie was perfect because of the story it emphasized and also(for me) because of the outstanding acting of Robin Williams...

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Cerebral storytelling

7/10
Author: Jugu Abraham (jugu_abraham@yahoo.co.uk) from Trivandrum, Kerala, India
14 March 2003

Fables were used in the past to tell stories to children. Here Hector (Robin Williams) and a woman story teller (Theresa Russel) whom we never see but only hear, weave several stories for Hector's children to explain his absence from their lives for several years. Each story attempts to explain figuratively what emotions he went through during the period.

An attentive viewer is amply rewarded by director Bill Forsyth--if you are a casual viewer you will wonder what is happening and consider the film to be disjointed and hence poor entertainment.

Non-linear narratives are not Forsyth's invention--such films have adorned French and Hungarian cinema for decades. "Being Human" is above average in that company merely because of fine performances from Williams, the beautiful Anna Galiena (Beatrice) an Italian actress, Hector Elizondo, John Turturro, William Macy, and Ewan McGregor to mention a few.

While the imaginative storytelling technique was impressive, Forsyth never explains who the lady narrator is. Are we expected to imagine it to be Hector's new love? The gradual jumps in time scales, gives us a socio-historical perspective into Hector's education in life, seen through the eyes of his children. Forsyth is interesting but not the best director using this technique. His film demands attention, both literally and figuratively.

I understand that the director disowns the film after the studios forced him to truncate the film by 40 minutes. Probably the director's cut is far superior to the present version and is likely to be more satisfying to a discerning viewer.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Not as bad as the initial reviews indicated

7/10
Author: Brian Leonard (unclebrian@brianleonard.net) from Springfield, VA
5 January 1999

Being Human is probably Bill Forsyth's "worst" film. And it got some of the LOUSIEST reviews ever when released. But Bill Forsyth's worst is still better than most people's best, and there was some positive reappraisal of it when the video came out. I think it's worth seeing, especially if you don't compare it to Forsyth's great films (Local Hero, Housekeeping, Gregory's Girl). Robin Williams is fine, as usual, as our anti-hero through time, and if the plot and running jokes wear more than a little thin by the end, the journey is still interesting.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Probably Williams' best work

10/10
Author: escoles from rochester ny usa
28 May 2000

This is my favorite Bill Forsythe picture, and probably Robin Williams' best work in one of those subdued yet utterly involved performances we all know he's capable of (_What Dreams May Come_, _...Garp_, _Good Will Hunting_, etc.) yet seldom see from him. It's much more serious than Forsythe's prior work (Local Hero, Comfort & Joy, etc.), but shares with them his quietly surreal sensibility.

Excellent supporting cast, and Forsythe's peculiar talent for making gray skies and barren landscapes seem beautiful is strongly in evidence. I waited eagerly for this to hit theatres, but it was apparently pulled from release; I hope to see it on a big screen someday.

This is not a movie that rewards casual viewing -- but more serious, involved viewing is repaid handsomely.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

This is a fantastic movie if you take the time to understand it...

Author: LolaDoll84 from Albany, New York
9 December 2001

Unfortunately, many people who have seen and reviewed this movie have not taken the time to see its true meaning. Being Human is not the story of man's development over time, it is the story of one man (Robin Williams) and the stages his life has passed through. I watched this movie in an Advanced Cinematography class, and I hated it. But as I began to see the connections between water and shoes as symbols, I began to appreciate it even more. Perhaps I am giving it away, but to really "get" this movie, just look at the title. Forsyth's movie is about being a human being. Hector (Williams) is simply being human, and having a tough time of it. My advice in watching this movie is to pay careful attention to the last segment. It is the key to understanding Being Human.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Deeply flawed but quite good

7/10
Author: Rodrigo Amaro (rodrigo882008@hotmail.com) from São Paulo, Brazil
21 January 2012

The life you live will be the same over and over again. You will repeat your lessons again and again in various forms until you have learned them. After learning it, there's evolution and wisdom. This is what can be said about this film except that it presents its stories without having this sort of spiritual value. It brings this idea of the eternal returning throughout this main character but it is developed almost like a fairy tale taken out of a children's book.

Travelling through different countries and periods of time, going from the Celts cavemen to the modern New York businessman, "Being Human" has Robin Williams playing a character named Hector and his appearances in distinct centuries trying to learn what means to be an human being. In the five short stories created here, Hector, living as an Celtic in the highlands, had his wife and children taken away by barbarians; was the slave of a dumb master (John Turturro) in a more civilized era; an married man who fell in love with an foreign woman, a few centuries later; a military during the Portugual's Maritime Expansion on Africa, conquering new lands and new treasures; and as troubled divorced man trying to reconciliate with his children of whom he hasn't seen since the end of his marriage. The movie fails in being real or accurate enough in all of the stories except in the last one which is very close to us.

Slow, of mannered delivery and hardly getting better as the stories unfold, "Being Human" is the kind of film that really follows its lessons, it'll only grow on you after countless views. In my case four attempts, of these in two I fell asleep (but always believing that there was something interesting there), one in which I watched the whole thing and didn't like and the last one in which my perception changed and end up being a good film, far from being a masterpiece that it could be. So, you'll have to watch this film over and over until you get something from it, then you can evolve into really saying if this is a good or a bad film.

This whole idea of a man trapped in strange and quite horrendous situations where every kind of decision ruin his life but always running to something else thinking it'll be better and lead him to a good life, was brilliantly presented in a book called "The Star Rover" by Jack London. In it, the main character is a prisoner that can recall his past lives as a way of escaping from his current pain of being tortured. But in those lives things don't get any better and he's always getting into more and more trouble. "Being Human" falls as an pretentious art film with symbolisms that never work and stories that are difficult to be involved with. Luckily, they have Williams as a main actor and we root for him whatever the Hector he's playing. We care for Hector in all of his situations because there's something there that is involving enough to make us imagining what kind of decisions we would make if we were him. In at least, one of the stories you'll put yourself into Hector's shoes.

Won't blame director/writer Bill Forsyth for the flaws presented here since this is not his original project, Warner Bros. forced him to cut the film and include an narration that is quite excessive and too much explanatory. The narration (provided by Theresa Russell) of a film destined to grown up's treats its audience as children, explaining many things we're seeing on the screen. It ruined some parts of the film. Result: poor criticism, an box-office failure and now who knows this film? I sincerely hope that one day Forsyth come out of the shadows and show to the world this film in its integrity in a director's cut DVD (even the known version is hard to find).

The things that attracted me into "Being Human" are the quality of the performances, not only Williams but also Turturro, Lorraine Bracco, Hector Elizondo, Jonathan Hyde, Anna Galiena, William H. Macy among others; the beautiful cinematography; Michael Gibbs fantastic musical score (specially the music presented when the movie enters into the 20th Century, an highly agitated theme). The story, at times, knows how to hold our interest but only for those who have an open mind to accept the concept of a man living over and over a similar life that bears only difference of costumes and periods of time. Hector's conditions and the way love acts in his life are quite the same, yet he fails to learn something from these experiences.

Very problematic but not enough to make you feel bad about it, "Being Human" comes as a good film about valuable and noble lessons that sometimes crosses our paths in this long journey of life. 7/10

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