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Entertaining but Flawed Documentary on Plato's Lost Island

Author: Rod Martin Jr from Philippines
11 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you need a pleasant distraction that is semi-educational, this may give you what you need. This smörgåsbord of historical details may distract the palate, but it leaves a decidedly empty feeling when done.

It seems everyone and their dog have come up with a "location" for Atlantis, other than the one described by Plato. This is like giving a presentation on American presidents, but talking about ancient Egyptian and Sumerian king lists and saying this one was like Lincoln and that one was like Kennedy. One might ask, "Where are the presidents?"

I suppose this might work if you start out with a prejudice against the possibility that Atlantis actually existed, which this documentary seems to do. For instance, Professor Nehamas, interviewed in the film, makes it clear that Atlantis was purely fiction, because there were no alternate versions of the myth like there were for other Greek myths.

Anyone with at least an entry level college course in debate, and a cursory reading of Plato's 2 dialogs, can see flaws in his reasoning. The Atlantis story was not one known throughout Greece and had been known for only 200 years when Plato wrote about it (at least, if we can believe Plato's back story). Likely, the story was only known to the Solon family, their descendants and a few family friends. There's no room for alternate versions in the traditional sense.

But there is an alternate version and one that gives an uncanny resemblance to the details of the Atlantis story -- the myth of Athena and her birth, by Metis, swallowed whole like the island.

There are many Atlantis experts who are much more knowledgeable and far more interesting. None of these were interviewed. But the most egregious error of the film was in not going directly to the source. They didn't discuss the details of the myth itself. Another analogy: This is like discussing all the apples in myth, but never letting you eat one.

There are many websites on the internet which discuss Atlantis, but very few actually go back to the source -- Plato -- and build from there. Yet, one has 3 pieces of evidence that prove an Atlantis-like event occurred right when Plato said the legendary island subsided. How cool is that? But did this documentary include anything that interesting? Not at all. They were too busy showing all of the quaint theories of Atlantis look-alikes, all over the world, and what people thought about them.

The real Atlantis, if it existed, was swept under the carpet.

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