The Human Experience (2008) Poster

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An intriguing documentary film
elianarra8 January 2011
I first saw The Human Experience in April 2009 at Penn State University. One of the things that first drew me to the film was the beautiful soundtrack by composer Thomas Bergersen, which I heard on the website. The Human Experience has a lot to offer, both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of content. The cinematography was lush and vivid, transporting the audience to the places that Jeff, Michael, and their friends visit during the film. I was particularly intrigued by the interview segments where various individuals shared their thoughts about the meaning of life. These moments of reflection provided an opportunity for viewers to ponder the question themselves. The plot is also an interesting one, where four refreshingly sincere people set off to "experience" a day in someone else's shoes, expecting no gain except a deeper understanding of human life. Documentary films can often be preachy, one-note; sacrificing the conventions of storytelling to drive a particular message. The Human Experience tells a great story AND has a great message. For someone who tends to watch fiction-narrative most of the time, I found this documentary film to be very engaging and interesting. I would definitely recommend it, both to aspiring filmmakers, humanitarians, and anyone who wants to learn more about the world, its people, and the value of life.
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A film that should be watched by all.
K.Romero7 January 2011
I had the opportunity of viewing this film at a screening at my high school last fall. I can honestly say that it is a film that every individual should watch at least once. After viewing the film, my friend and I purchased a full lunch for a homeless woman who was sitting in front of a Church. It was the best thirteen dollars that we have ever spent. "The Human Experience" gives light to the struggles of those living in the concrete jungle in a truly dignified matter. And the leper colony -- wow! I had no idea it had even existed in our day and age! This film will open your heart and change the way you think about the world.
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The Human Experience: An eye-opening experience
firebird3428410 January 2011
Jefferey and Clifford Azize two brothers venture out into the "poorer" worlds. They learn about the lives of individuals who live in more humbler conditions that they do. I watched this movie in high school about 2 years ago and I thought that the movie was very inspirational and it wasn't nauseating like most soul-searching movies. It was interesting to see different views and worlds and see that despite their suffering they still find enough things to make themselves happy. Seeing a man with leprosy, with all of his scars and his amputated body parts, and yet he still is happy makes me realize that I must appreciate my life even more; I have more than he does and yet he is happier than me. I also thought that it was a good mix of serious content as well as a few light happy moments; it allows the movie to be a little easier to watch. If you really are looking for a movie to really inspire you and be more introspective then I suggest for you to see this movie.
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The Human Experience: a captivating documentary
Kris Elizabeth11 January 2011
If you're looking for just another documentary that offers a hackneyed plot with second-rate visuals, I suggest you look someplace else because this is not the film for you. The Human Experience has it all: a remarkable selection of music, striking images, a compelling story, and an unforgettable cast. The superb camera work facilitates the connection between the audience and the actors; I felt as if I too shared the journey! I was particularly intrigued by the execution of the message, which is conveyed in a matter that appeals to those of all religions or walks of life. With commentaries from a rabbi, a scientist, and other religious and academic experts, the film offers their perspectives on the meaning of life to deepen the understanding of the human spirit. Honestly, I cannot simply pinpoint my single favorite segment of the movie, however, there is a particular scene with Michael Campo recalling a humorous incident with his second grade teacher which is by far a great addition to the film. Not only does it add a bit of comic relief, it reminds the audience that these are real people and not simply characters crafted for the sake of making a movie. I have viewed this film on numerous occasions with family and friends, and the responses that I have witnessed all gravitate toward the single notion of appreciation; An appreciation for life, for love, for family and friends, for faith, and for everything that comes in between. There is an unquestionable beauty in simplicity and the film undoubtedly communicates this idea. What I take from this film is that of several things of which I, like many, have taken for granted. How many of us go through our days without taking a moment to reflect and cherish the things that are irreplaceable? I'm referring to the things that which many label subconsciously as being a permanent part of our lives, when in reality can be easily taken away in a matter of seconds. Relationships, whether they may be short-term or long-term, impact our lives; It is essential that we recognize and appreciate these ties to continue to grow and live a life that is abundantly nourished, loved, as well as creating an ever-lasting peace within our hearts. For those of you that have not viewed this film, I ask of one simple request: watch it with a heart wide open.
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Loving the Value of Life
Sakura_Petals10615 November 2008
The Human Experience portrays the diverse and incredible outlooks on life. A screening of this movie was done at my high school and I find it remarkable that a film like this has reached the hearts and minds of many young people. It shows how the experiences in every life may define who we are as people and determine what hardships we are willing to endure and learn from. After viewing this film, mine along with many other perspectives of third world countries have changed. We usually look at them and take pity on the things they don't have. However, there is something they possess that the societies of first world countries would consider a difficult concept to master: pure, inner joy. Although they lack so many of the materials we take advantage of every day, it is their deprivation that makes them happy and unique. One major idea that I have attained from this film is that the less you have, the more you have to be grateful for; also in the same instance is that the more you have, the less you realize what you should be grateful for. Our minds have been deluded into believing that our possessions are our cornerstones for happiness. Those who go through life, day in and day out-not feeling completely satisfied with themselves-are lacking the same, basic qualities these homeless and foreign people have to live their own full human experience. From the moment I finished watching the film, I have asked myself this single question several times: Is it ironic that although we are abundant in worldly possessions many of us have still lost the genuine will to live? It is this very same will that keeps the lives of these people going. Our abundance of resources may be evident however they do not compensate the need for happiness. The value of life does not come from our worldly possessions, but the blessings that are given to us: family, friends, love, and joy. I feel as though I truly understand the value and the meaning of life. I can only hope that the people who view this movie realize how life is important and how no single being on the face of this earth has the right to take it from anyone...not even themselves. I also find it truly remarkable how they portray this importance without the words "abortion", "euthanasia" or even "pro-life". It is clearly apparent that everyone has the ability to obtain the will to live and no one could take it away from them regardless of who they are, what religion they believe in, and what creed they follow. We are all people who hold on to life as our greatest gift. This fact alone is what removes the boundaries that may seem to separate us.
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Unbelievable, I absolutely loved it.
samanthadevoe13 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that took part in "The Human Experience", especially Jeffrey, what a heartthrob.

This film took me, and the rest of my family on a journey without ever leaving our home. It touched on so many things, that I never really thought about (i.e. relationships, adventures, family and life in general).

I loved Experience-2 with the children in South-America the best, (Side Note: Does anyone know how I can contact Dr. Tony and the children?) not to mention Experience-1 with the homeless in New York City and the 2 brothers.

While the film was playing, I looked around the living room and saw my grandparents, nieces, nephews, siblings and parents glued to their seats. Not an easy task to do with the Devoe family. Noticing that, pretty much confirmed that this film is unlike any other film.

After the laughing, crying (lots and lots of crying, some sad but mostly good cries) and a box a tissues, the film was over. However what struck me the most, and what motivated me to write this review was what happened after the film. I noticed for the first time ever, our family stayed together and talked about it, and the experiences Jeff :D and his brother Cliff went through, what that might have felt like. The conversation then went to some family/life stories that I won't bore you with, but to us, it was one of those moments where each and everyone realized, that we were a family, and that meant the world to us.

So again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
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Excellent, uplifting documentary.
christinepennacchio22 May 2011
This documentary follows the travels of a group of young men from Brooklyn who sought to better understand what defines the human experience. They started their journey in New York where they lived in a homeless community during the coldest week of the year. Next, they traveled to Peru where they assisted hospitalized children with special medical needs. Finally, they ventured out of their comfort zone to befriend men and women with HIV/AIDS and patients in a leper colony in Ghana. Everything in this film was true, and the filmmakers really let the beauty of life shine forth, especially by showing their own lives in such a vulnerable way. This story was truly inspirational and reminds us that, no matter how different people may be in culture, religion, or background, they are all human and deserve the love of others. Additionally, the score for this film was excellently suited for the content and really made the experience even more rich. I highly recommend this film!
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Hard-Core Reality, Tough, Resilient, Inspiring, Amazing,
becmarv17 July 2013
Man, these dudes, these kids, have had some really messed up lives - but this ain't no pity party. They go out and about and connect with people whose lives' are even more messed up than theirs & most of ours. If you are having hard times or if you're feeling like "life sucks", then this movie is for YOU! The people you meet will absolutely help you appreciate some of the good things you have left. But again - No Pity Party. These people really have miserable lives, except they aren't really miserable. It will blow your mind to see people who are both really suffering, horrible things, that no one should endure, but they are also pretty content. For real, they are OK, glad to be alive, almost happy. I want what they got and the formula is in this film, at least there's an excellent starting point. This film kicked my butt & my brain & put a nice dent in my depression. Thanks Guys, it was an honor & I found hope, direction, & healing from the gift of this movie.
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The BEST documentary I've ever watched!!!
Kristina Gee1 July 2012
I have never left a review for anything but after seeing some reviews on here I was compelled to do so. I think the most part is the cast!!! Here are some boys who had nothing. No future or parents to guide them and teach. The St. Francis house gives these boys a place to call home and a new start! some direction and help. These guys come from nothing and had a chance to see parts of the world with much more suffering then they could have ever imagined. So, because of that many of you criticize them? Because they are not scholars and professionals? To have to have this opportunity is a blessing. I can't even explain how happy it makes me that they were chosen for this opportunity. The smiles on their faces even when they have nothing in a world where material defines ones character and happiness. I know these young men will spend the rest of their lives making a difference in this world and contributing to others in need. This film was AMAZING!! I text all my family members to watch especially the younger generation and donated to the st. Francis house:) I pray for all these people and that God continues to bless them in their paths and continue to use them in making a difference. DO WATCH!!!
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big title, small movie
tklein197627 April 2011
The cinematography, images, and music are beautiful and the concept had great potential. Unfortunately, this film didn't come close to fulfilling it. Besides the visual beauty and the attention (albeit cursory) to very important issues, there was surprisingly little substance in this film. Though apparently earnest and well intentioned, the travelers were disturbingly naive, inarticulate, and for the most part, had little interesting to say. Even the commentators' words were generally banal and empty. Yes, suffering is an integral part of life, hope can be healing, and viewing the world from different perspectives can be enlightening. What's new? They could have really explored these issues and done a lot more to examine their relevance in the lives of the various people they visited. Disappointingly, however, ideas are treated very superficially in this film and, overall, it had the feel of a well funded 9th grade social studies project.
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Worth seeing ... but pack tissues :)
Melanie8 April 2011
I watched this movie tonight with a friend at St Michael's Catholic Church in Belfield. We were lucky to have an opportunity to meet two of the cast members after the screening, and ask them questions.

I can highly recommend this film. It is refreshing seeing movies that inspire and uplift, giving hope to viewers. As well as the messages of hope, the movie cleanly demonstrates how quickly we can judge people and their circumstances based on what they look like, the circumstances, etc. It reminds us that we are all part of one universal family ... the human family.

Watch this with teenage aged children and older, it will provide grounds for great conversations. I do not recommend this movie to be viewed by young children, as some screens and concepts can be distressing them. A young child (around 6 years old) at tonight's screening was in tears.
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Good film - but would rather see it done again differently.
Alec West31 March 2011
Any film that exposes the lives of those not as fortunate as their more mainstream counterparts is a worthwhile film. However, after watching it, I was left with a sobering truth - that this was a film about two people who had the power to "go back" to their normal lives after it was all over ... interviewing others who knew it.

I'd actually like to see such a film done again. Only the next time, I'd like to see it done "Candid Camera" style where the interviewees are unaware they're in the spotlight - and where the interviewers appear to be persons in the same situation. I think the reactions of those interviewed would be different and far more honest.
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Horrible, sappy
john49611 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, this was an awful movie. Could they have picked 2 more uninteresting people to travel the world? I would have rather seen these guys on Jersey Shore. It's almost embarrassing to watch them try to say something intelligent. Ex: The black and white scenes in the car with memorable lines such as "It's just like..kinda like....(sigh) I don't know" The music is horrible and attempts to make something powerful out of the scenes, but there is very little of value. The part where he walks up to his father after 10 years is filled with uncomfortable silence. A better name of the film would have been: "Filming people in pain while total uninteresting idiots walk around with them."
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Shockingly Inspiring
Betsy Malone22 January 2011
I attended a screening of The Human Experience in Louisville Kentucky at Trinity high school in 2009 and was truly moved by this documentary. It's not a typical documentary... as it doesn't develop one character for the audience to identify with... however it still captivates the audience because it is authentic, redemptive, and inspiring.

So what's so shocking?

This true story is about a young man and his brother who visit several places of profound suffering. They spend a week living among the homeless on the streets of New York City. They visit a Peruvian home for abandoned and severely crippled children. Finally, they travel to an Africa, interviewing people dying of AIDS and people exiled to a leper colony. On the surface, the film sounds depressing and could leave you confused with all the suffering in our world.

To the contrary and true to the title... The Human Experience... is experiential and touches the heart to bring about a human response. When we connect with others and understand their experience we learn what it means to be human.

You'll enjoy vivid cinematography, penetrating commentaries, and varied views that appeal to all walks of life. The experience will leave you feeling inspired, hopeful, and even more human!

Kudos to director, Charles Kinnane, and stars, Jeffrey Azize, Clifford Azize, and Michael Campo!

3rd Dog Script aka Betsy Banfield-Malone
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Simply Amazing and Inspiring
Brad Garbus16 May 2011
This movie will touch your heart and inspire your soul. It really makes you think about the experience we call life. I can't spoil any of it by writing about it here, but I will tell you - see the movie. It is well worth it.

The movie takes you through different facets of life that people normally do not look at or even consider.

We have become so self absorbed that we stop living with purpose. This movie will spark hope and inspiration in you. The heart felt compassion I felt after watching left me with a lot of wet tissues and a wide-open heart.

Be sure to share it with a friend.
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Unfocused And Riddled With Clichés
SrCharls25 February 2012
I can't really add much to the (bad) reviews above. However, I am numb from being lambasted by this film's pretension and utter lack of focus. I felt manipulated.

As far as I can tell the movie's theme is: We should have a purpose in life and everybody has something good about them. I don't need to hear an endless parade of platitudes and clichés to get the point. As far as I can tell, there is nothing to learn in this film other than bad things happen to "innocent" people.

I could also do without the violin music.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the photography.

If you are the kind of person who enjoys "inspiring" films that don't make you think, then this one is for you.
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Could be touching if not for the cast
wolverines101225 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This 'documentary' was shot well, edited well, and had a decent soundtrack. Unfortunately it followed a bunch of naive New York urbanites as they anecdotally experienced the world and made vague references to discovering the meaning of live/human experience. It gave me the same feeling as if I had watched a real housewife of Orange County take a mission trip to Africa with a mega church. I was amazed at how uninformed these guys were as to the amount of suffering in the world, I'm also amazed that they don't realize they are at the tip of the iceberg of suffering. People can make a difference in the world, but what this film left out was that it doesn't generally happen by going to a developing nation and changing some bandages; doing so might make one feel helpful and needed, it will also provide fodder for an 'inspirational' book or documentary if that is your thing. I realize this wasn't meant to be a how-to on solving global inequality or poverty alleviation, but I also don't see how viewing people in relatively bad situations who are happy to be alive provides the key to life.

It was alluded to that the cast didn't necessarily have an easy life by Western standards, but had this film followed the cast of Jersey Shore around the world, I don't think it would be as popular and I don't see how it is that far off. I enjoyed several of the commentators throughout the film and would like to have heard more from them, unfortunately they were spliced together with the unintelligible mumblings of the main characters.
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Well intentioned by shallow and contrived
Alan Holton11 December 2012
I was bored by most of the movie.

The scenes in Peru were touching but added nothing to what I consider to be my "human experience".

The AIDS scenes just didn't do it for me. If you want to show the real impact of AIDS, come to sub-Saharan Africa and live with orphan families where children as young as ten years old are acting as the head of the family and as the breadwinner. Show someone with AIDS - in an African setting.

The finale with the meeting with the reluctant father was totally unconvincing and a bit embarrassing. The father's body language said it all - he was only there for the camera and to 'please' his abandoned son.

I far prefer the older "Mundo Carne" reflection on life.
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Way over done, disappointing for the amount of effort
k2-140-63329422 August 2011
A beautifully shot movie, but i was pretty disappointed by it. it seems a lot of effort and money went into making this film. definitely scenes and images that were moving but seemed to me to play out like a MTV true life story. maybe even would of been a great series, i was expecting a lot more and at least got to play in my own imagination of where this film could of gone. a random grouping of situations that were so set up it seems hard to get a real human experience when a film crew is floating around. i'm sure it was maybe even a small crew but they could of been a little more gritty about it. specially living in the streets in NYC winter. way more artistic and poetic segments than anything with true feeling of experience. a film worth watching but not much to process with so many other docs and films really getting into the human experience.
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