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Right up front, I'm a political/social conservative who is okay with
marijuana and gay marriage. This may have prejudiced this review a bit.
First, this is a beautiful movie of self-discovery. And, I do mean self- discovery. There really wasn't a single concept discussed that hasn't been discussed since I was in high school and I'm 70 years old. Actually, these concepts have probably been discussed for the past 5,000 years or more.
However, if you want to experience a man living through his moment of "enlightenment," this movie will give you that. Essentially, he discovers that happiness doesn't come from material things, but from being involved in something bigger than himself, something that makes a difference.
He's very careful to state that you don't need to make a big difference to gain a sense of worth and happiness, even the small, little things make a difference. He supports these concepts with some relatively recent scientific research, that points to the power of matters of the heart and the impact our negative and positive thoughts can have on ourselves as well as others; in fact, the environment around us. As I said earlier, toss out the research and you're left with what philosophers and mystics have been telling us for ages.
One of the major themes sounded very socialistic (this was the political part) , pretty much: From those who have too much, to those who have too little. This is, of course, a common theme amongst progressives (redistribution of wealth). However, something he hinted at was a bit different. He seemed to say that this had to come from the heart, from a personal commitment to help others, to help the community. I would agree and add, that this means that it can't be instigated by any government, you can't order people to love their neighbor. Nothing good comes from trying to do that.
The big disappointment for me, was the lack of any discussion concerning what I consider to be the two most important questions that this line of thought must deal with.
1) What do you do about those who decide to take full advantage of the situation and choose only to take and not to give? In other words, live off of the efforts of others.
2) What do you do about those who decide to manipulate the system to their own personal advantage, both from the financial and the position of power perspectives?
This type of society leaves itself wide open to that, without a very strong central government that makes sure that things stay fair. However, usually those in the government are the ones to take advantage, and no real gains are achieved by the vast majority of the population.
I really wish, someday, someone with these Utopian thoughts would honestly approach the tough questions. ... and yes, this is a movie about Utopia ... but, alas, I'm afraid the tough questions will remain unanswered, utopias will continue to fail and humanity will still be having this dream 5,000 years from now.
This is a complete change of pace from the man who brought us Ace
Ventura and Liar, Liar. Here Tom looks at the deeper questions of what
is wrong with our world and what can we do to change it. Unfortunately,
that makes it sound like homework and it is anything but. Tom uses his
skill as a filmmaker and his humor to bring us on a journey of
enlightenment with him. He has thoughtful conversations with many of
the worlds best thinkers and puts the question "what's wrong with our
world" to them. Are aggression and competition really the natural
order? Is there a better way? This movie asks the questions and gives
some possible answers in an entertaining and non-preachy way. The world
is what we make of it, and our experience of life is ours to control.
See this movie!!
I had the pleasure of seeing this movie last evening at my daughters
high school. Tom & his team brought a unique perspective to the kids of
our world. The film asks some interesting questions, but does not
presume so much as to provide answers to something so unanswerable.
Instead, it challenges the viewer to look inside themselves a bit & to
consider how they interact with the world around them. To be open
minded to a world of possibilities and more importantly; to not take
your role in this world nor the size of your act as insignificant.
To often we adults layered with our cynicism, skepticism & selfishness forget that the world is still brand new to our children. The film reaches out to empower the young & reminds them they have the power to create the world they wish to live in.
Do yourself and your children a favor, take a moment to see this film when it comes out!
This is movie shows the ability we have to change and shift the world
as we know it. Tom did a wonderful job with this documentary. The high
school students who were in attendance to the screening began to ask
deep questions. Questions that brings me faith in a new world that
works for everyone.
Be the drop the in the sea and make a difference. Tom's work is spurring work that I've already begun. I highly recommend this movie to everyone, including our teenagers. If I had a chance to see this as a teen, I would've related. It took me 37 years of my life bouncing back and forth of seeking the truth on opposing sides of issues. I've found the answer is not in a position against anything.
A successful and wealthy Hollywood director/producer, Tom Shadyac,
following a nasty bicycle accident and ensuing significant PTSD,
recovered to put together this wonderful documentary concerning the
philosophical components of what creates a satisfied and happy
life/community. What was found that when it comes right down to it, all
we really need is love. "I Am" is a documentary & solution of our
global problem, attempting to instill consciousness and awakening into
its viewers, one person at a time. It is 76 minutes of happy talk,
Koyaanisqatsi-style (Francis Ford Coppola/Godfrey Reggio's 1982
documentary) with slow-motion stock footage, reflective historical
archival excerpts and a mixture of relevant film clips ("Wall Street,"
"It's a Wonderful Life"), quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin
Luther King, Mother Teresa and Gandhi, splices of spiritual songs w/
incredible poignant lyrics- all teamed to emotional tie-ins that
elevate the human spirit with empathy, empowerment & a brilliant
understanding of connection and a desire to want to "make a
difference". Its style and method has much connection to Michael Moore
documentaries, but doesn't leave the viewer in such an angry and
impotent mood post showing. Likewise, the film uses the producer's own
life story to show that "more" doesn't equate to "happy". It
illustrates how a common thread of disorder/dissatisfaction is
inter-weaved into our whole western culture's neurosis, intuitively
then, & at the individual's psyche this subsequent emotional
instability (dis-ease) is obviously the response to a total
disconnection from the interconnectedness of all life, & its
interdependency of nature, community, and rightful, unselfish purpose.
Our responsive and internal behaviors seem to shout "defense mechanism"
as protection to the affront priorities of our culture's "smoke and
mirrors". The film's title is not a proud declaration but an acceptance
of responsibility. Shadyac holds himself up as a prime example of the
conspicuous consumption that many native cultures consider a sign of
Putting together a lot of the best contemporary minds of science, politics, spirituality, philosophy, statesmen and poetry, as well as prominent authors of esoteric concepts blending "the physics of consciousness" and "the biology of love", Shadyac set out to answer two questions: What's wrong with our world? What can we do about it? The unequivocal agreement he ascertains is that we're (as a species) hard-wired for cooperation rather than competition, we should listen and behave more from our hearts (and less from our heads), that science and abstract mathematics do change over time, have manipulative appeal with long time consequences are often NOT the answer and with this- the fundamental nature of man is essentially benevolent and not cruel.
Though the answers to these two questions appear voluminous, complicated and opaque, the flow of this movie shows a glowing and simple answer. Yes, people are good, and this movie is a positive and expansive experience. The movie is open to the miraculous nature of existence and the potential for change rather than extinction and other untoward direction of decay and devastation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It started out OK just long enough to suck me in, then it went down the
path of pseudo-scientific new age idiocy (aka woo) as bad or worse than
Real science is not going to lend legitimacy to your pet beliefs. Non scientists need to refrain from trying to make their unscientific beliefs sound scientific, because they always come off as naive, ignorant and stupid to anyone with more than a high-school understanding of science.
How do I know it's woo? Here are some selected quotes:
"Studies show that ..." Were these studies performed under controlled test conditions and were appropriate tests of significance used? They don't say, so the answer likely is "no."
"The science tells us that ..." No, it doesn't, unless you can show exactly how it does. Prefacing an unproven assertion with the word science only fools the naive and ignorant.
"Quantum entanglement ..." If you aren't showing me the math, you obviously do not understand quantum physics, stop bringing it up.
"The human heart can predict the future." Really? How exactly does the heart violate causality?
While another review described this movie as "liberal," I must say that
while it may be, it still had a lot of interesting information in it.
At one point in my life, I thought Rush Limbaugh was too liberal, but
yet I still enjoyed this movie and have watched it several times.
There were several turn offs, yes. The New Age vibe the movie gives off is one of them. However, this is also a plus, because New Agers must be one of the last groups in America that have an upbeat outlook for the future. I may not agree with them, yet it is totally refreshing to see what is an unusual stance in this day of "doomsday preppers."
The other negative of the film is the kind of glowing nostalgic view of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Yes, both of them may have really done some good in some way, but there were a lot of dark things about Mandela that were pushed under the carpet, and making him look like he could walk on water really does a disservice to history. The same with King, who in some ways did help move America to the "left" politically, but yes, he did accomplish some things that were needed in America.
That being said, there are some really positive things about the movie. The look at America as a consumer-based society. The look at community versus individualism is interesting. Really, all of the interviews in the film are pretty interesting and the movie is worth watching just for this reason.
Lynne Mctaggart, the author of one of my favorite books, "The Field," is interviewed in the film. For anyone wanting to look more at the scientific side of "I Am," I highly recommend getting a copy of "The Field."
I will add as a side note, that while it isn't totally fitting to "I Am," I recommend the book, "The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom," by Jonathan Haidt. Haidt expands on some of the same issues, discussing community versus individualism, consumerism, etc., and even discusses some of the political views that affect these topics.
Rather than it being one or the other, Haidt points out that both Left and Right have some truth to them, and that America is better off because both sides exist.
I think that is how "I Am" should be viewed. There is some truth in it, and it should be watched even if you don't agree with every single minute of the movie.
In fact, I think people can grow from hearing different viewpoints even if they don't agree with them. In that respect, "I Am," offers a lot to think about, again, even if you don't agree with all of it.
I like the moral premise and idea that all life is connected and
happiness is not directly related to money once basic needs are met,
but when the filmmaker resorts to pseudoscience trickery he alienates
me . Somethings can't or don't need to be proved.The filmmaker shows
yogurt with meter probes "reading" his feelings.The next one that got
me was the"random number generators that all stopped when there was a
major catastrophe. What they are used for anyway? Why they stopped did
not impress me.What does a computer care about a tsunami? Is it alive?
If you want to prove something with science you have to show more data.
So if you want a show that starts with a nice warm cooperative premise
and ends with trickery this is a good "bait and switch" for you.
PS:Happiness is living in a Malibu beach mobile home with 10 million in the bank and a career in Hollywood film directing.Does that compare to the the average struggling person in a mobile home park with no other options? Now I must stop myself.
As a pastor I often try to make the point that faith and science are
not opposed to each other. Rather, they're complimentary. They approach
many of the same questions, but they do so from different perspectives.
It's difficult to convince a lot of people of that. Hard core atheists
will deny it; hard core religious extremists will deny it. But I
believe it's true. And that's one of the reasons that I was so
delighted to stumble across this documentary.
It was made by director Tom Shadyac - who's perhaps best known for directing some of Jim Carrey's comedies. This, however, is not a comedy. Shadyac made this after a life altering experience that had him facing mortality. It's not a "religious" documentary. It doesn't promote any particular religion or faith. It's more of an exploration of "spirituality" as I understand it - the reality of the interconnectedness of everything that exists with everything else that exists. It makes the point that science is increasingly discovering the wisdom of ancient spiritual texts that spoke of and celebrated community and connectedness. Most provocatively, perhaps, it critiques modern society's "me first" mentality with the emphasis being on acquiring more and more of whatever we value - suggesting that acquiring more than what we actually need is a form of mental illness, especially when we're well aware of people living in need at the same time. I was taken by the note that in "The Origin Of Species," Darwin mentioned "survival of the fittest" only twice, but used the word "love" 95 times - noting that it was those who came after Darwin (especially Huxley) who emphasized survival of the fittest and never-ending competition and conquest; the drive to be the best rather than one of the group. It also holds up the ideal of non-violence (using as examples Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela) as one of the best ways of engaging oppressors.
I have to admit that some of the scientific discussions contained in this were a bit over my non-scientific head, and this certainly won't appeal to those who are convinced that life is a competition and that the only way to survive and get ahead is to achieve and acquire more than anyone else. In fact, it won't appeal to those who are convinced that the whole point of life is simply to get ahead. Such folk will likely find this too challenging to their worldview; too "liberal" and naive. If you can approach it with an open mind, though, this is very inspiring. It seems a bit cliché as it approaches the end, using imagery like "when a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil it affects everything else" and other familiar sayings - which perhaps lose their power a bit because they are so familiar. Still, I felt uplifted and hopeful as this came to an end. (8/10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I AM reminds me of the Vietnam-era general's quote: We had to destroy
the village to save it. I AM has a correct message, but destroys its
effectiveness with a lot of new-agey cow pies. (Not sure what the lingo
standards are on IMDb.) Lets begin with the big lies. In 1500, the
scientists DID NOT say the earth was flat. In fact, 1500 was well into
the enlightenment. Even during the Middle Ages the scholars (not
"scientists" in the modern sense of the term) knew and said the earth
was round. Even during the Dark Ages they knew and said the earth
was curved. Hemisphere? Globe? They were uncertain, but they definitely
knew it was not flat. Yes, they said it was at the center of the
cosmos, but it was scientists who proved that wrong. Also, the movie
constantly reiterates that scientists have depicted man as separate
from the rest of nature, and even parts of nature separate from each
other. The statement is true but ignores the science of the last
hundred years, which has increasingly changed that view. It was
scientists with mathematicians who discovered quantum entanglement
(mentioned in I AM), along with quantum physics. And it was a
scientists who decades ago stated that the universe resembles less a
clock than mind.
It is true, as another commenter writes, that love and cooperation are in our genes. But so is aggression and violence just read Jane Goodall's account of chimps, or her statements given in interviews. She wrote of seeing one chimpanzee clan literally wipe out another whose members had previously been part of the first clan.
As carlupq points out, the references in the movie (to trees and lions only taking what they need) is ridiculous. Carrier pigeons were once so plentiful in America, that their flocks would destroy a forest by merely occupying it for a month. And biological die-offs are common in nature, the result of natural imbalances building up to collapses.
And yet, clearly, Tom Shadyac is not entirely off-base. We HAVE developed an obsession with money and stuff, and it IS destroying our nation and the world. We are as off-balance as populations prior to die-offs. Worse, we've lost our way spiritually. Commenter carlupq goes a bit too far in his rah-rah for the free market, but we our society and the world's advanced nations, and advancing ones too need a new vision. Poverty is not the answer, nor is a mythical touchy-feely view of man as this inherently kind and caring creature who coincidently happens to have been slaughtering his fellow man and despoiling his environment since the earliest large groupings arose.
No, I AM correctly points to the need for change, a fundamental change in our thinking and our subsequent doings. Unfortunately, it plays off of, and spreads, too many silly ideas to be taken seriously by any except those already in the new-age fold. We need to convince the average Joe and Jane who live in the city and suburbia, and who recognize both the good and the evil in man, that we have to change, and that their children and grandchildren will ultimately be happier by our doing so. We will not convince them with unrealistic views of nature and mankind, but only by the real dangers of continuing on our current paths.
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