A look at the history of one-time Gestapo commander Klaus Barbie, infamously known as "The Butcher of Lyon." This documentary's main focus will be on Barbie's post-war activities, in which ... See full summary »
What do you get when you ask the people of the world to chronicle a single day in their lives? You get 80,000 submissions, 4500 hours of footage, from 192 countries. Kevin Macdonald has taken this raw material, all shot on July 24, 2010, and created a 90-minute paean to what it means to be human in the world today. Written by
By its very nature, Life in a Day is an ambitious film. It seeks to encapsulate the human experience and all that it entails: life and death; love and hate; poverty and wealth; our dreams and our fears; and so on. I would argue that it does so successfully - or at least as successfully as possible for an undertaking of such scope (80,000 submissions totalling 4,500 hours of footage cut down to just an hour and a half!). It manages to strike a balance between the beauty of professional shooting and the raw visceral power of amateur footage. Very little seems contrived or awkward, and the editing and music do not usually distract from the simple energy of the vignettes being shown. In fact, the score is quite good and the editing only comes to the forefront when it's doing something meaningful - revealing links, emphasizing contrasts, or completing a thought.
A few stories are highlighted and revisited as the film progresses, but in general it never lingers too long on one scene. You would think this might hinder the presentation of some of the slower, more peaceful aspects of life, but it really doesn't. In fact, the lasting impression from this film is not one of chaos but one of unity and connection. That being said, at times the emotional roller-coaster you are being put through can be slightly bewildering. Some viewers might dislike how quickly they are brought from one emotion to another, but most will probably be too engaged to feel more than a twinge of regret that a particular scene couldn't last longer.
Some might argue that the more brutal realities of life are underrepresented (war, death, crime, prejudice, etc.), but I think that perception is probably due to how much we are bombarded with them by our daily news and entertainment. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of misery on display here (whether it be as simple as the sting of rejection or as profound as the fear of dying), but it's often more subtle than explicit and it's tempered by a positivity that sometimes seems to be lacking in our view of the world.
As a cinema enthusiast, this film excites me with the prospect of increasing interactivity and grassroots power. As a human, it gives me hope that we can live in harmony and understanding. And I'm usually quite the cynic.
Final summary: 9/10 | A
42 of 49 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?