‘Human’, the movie, expresses the raw, inescapable reality of humanity. This is a mirror for our collective soul, which can change the world…if we let it.
There’s something to be said for reaching into the depths of your soul, dirty as it might be, to find the stuff that binds us all together. Statistics can show us how media manipulation of the general public can alter culture and political ideals, and vice versa. We can study disease trends, violence, war, you name it. You can avoid the harsh reality of war by thinking of X number of casualties, but when your child dies there’s no escaping how much a life is worth. And every life lost affects someone else to the same degree. We are all human.
One of my favorite proverbs is from Sweden. It states simply “shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow.” And in doing so, it sums up the human experience beautifully. As humans, we are undeniably social creatures. Our daily interactions with our fellow humans define our existence. From wondering if we phrased things right to a grieving friend to celebrating with friends when our favorite team wins the Super Bowl, what we do on a daily basis is undeniably impacted by and has an impact on others.
Renowned filmmaker and photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand recently released a movie that calls us all to examine ourselves as humans. A little over 4.5 hours in length, the three-part movie “Human” tackles tough issues you won’t find discussed in so raw and moving a manner elsewhere. Love, work, family, poverty, happiness, disability and dozens more emotionally moving and intrinsically difficult to express concepts are shown clearly in this film. There are no cheap gimmicks or special effects. You come face-to-face with the interviewees—the least expected subjects—ordinary people whose existence unto itself is extraordinary.
Prison inmates, immigrants, refugees and victims of rape offer their stories in their own words. Hailing from around the world and speaking dozens of languages—some of which could, admittedly, be better translated—share their deepest emotions. They cry, laugh and most of all, despite differing opinions, remind us what it means to be human.
Arthus-Bertrand takes the idea of telling every persons’ story to a new level. You have no choice but to look the interviewee in the eye, and to—even without trying—understand them. You hear the joy and pain in the voices of each subject, and connect with them as if you were seated in the room in front of them. As if you were their intended audience.
Stereotypes are shattered, and the good and bad of humanity are exemplified. The words of a man with a desire to kill, a convict who murdered a mother and child, a man whose daughter was killed who seeks no revenge despite his acquaintances suggesting he get it…each face you. Some are frightening, some offer unexpected wisdom and some will leave you laughing or crying. None will bore you.
Minimalist presentation is interspersed with stunning scenes of nature and humanity as intermissions between themes. Those visual breaks are feasts for the senses. The music is expertly paired with the imagery in the movie to encourage you to think about what you just saw.
I found myself silent after the film—many of the questions it tackles seem to have no solution, and others push me to look for a better way of living. Perhaps that was the goal of the film on a whole: to inspire a new way of looking at our fellow man. A new way of being human.
Can a movie change the world? That’s a good question. The raw reality of humanity as we are, not as we’d like to idealize ourselves to be, is inescapable in this film. It’s a mirror for our collective soul, and that’s not necessarily an easy thing to face.
Watch it and share your thoughts here in the comments. This is one movie worth talking about…as we learn to really face ourselves as we are.
Photo credit: YouTube/Human the movie