We’re on a planet that breathes, pulsing with water and soil and love. We’re on a planet that cradles life without demand, turn after turn … We’re on a planet that is running out: out of water, out of air, out of time.
We’re on a planet.
We’re on a planet that breathes, pulsing with water and soil and love. We’re on a planet that cradles life without demand, turn after turn. We’re on a planet that is ripe with gifts. We’re on a planet that is running out: out of water, out of air, out of time.
“We’re on a planet, and we are planetary,” Guy Reid says. Reid is the director of the documentary Overview, a visually stunning cinematic journey that takes its audience to space and back. “Not only are we on a beautiful planet, we’re on one that is immensely fragile,” Reid adds.
The film insists that we are more than individual humans inhabiting a rock spinning through the galaxy. It insists that we are one; inextricably linked by the stardust in our veins, a collective consciousness that’s dependent upon the cooperation of its parts, from earth to sky, mountain to sea. It insists that this collective is a single organism, simultaneously of the planet and of the cosmos. In short, it’s planetary.
And this insistence delivers. Clearly, something hooked people. It hooked us.
“We’d articulated something that people have always felt. Something that they’d always understood: that the earth is beautiful and fragile and precious, and that we are all connected to it,” says Steve Watts Kennedy, producer, writer and editor of Overview.
“That’s not a philosophical position, it’s a fact,” he says. “We just wanted to share that idea. And I think that’s why people have liked and shared the film so much.”
Overview is the brainchild of Guy Reid and Steve Watts Kennedy, lifelong friends who conceived the idea for the project as 15-year old kids sitting together on a park bench in Bristol, England; a city known more for its contribution to underground dance music than cosmic philosophy. Inspired to action by a book called The Global Brain Awakens by English physicist Peter Russell, Reid and Kennedy say they purchased dozens of copies from a secondhand shop and gave them away to friends.
“No one read them,” Kennedy laughed. So the two decided a film might be more enticing once they grew up.
No one is better positioned to talk about the fragility of our planet than an astronaut. Viewing the earth as a tiny blue dot while floating amid the stars is an experience most humans will never have. Overview uses the unique perspective of astronauts to illustrate the earth’s vulnerability in a way that is as extraordinary as it is simple.
Ron Garan is one of them. A retired NASA astronaut, Garan has traveled 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits of our planet during more than 178 days in space.
Seeing the planet for months at a time from space was an unprecedented vantage point for Garan. He spent most of his free time aboard his first mission with his face plastered to the window, looking back at earth.
“I launched into space on my first mission with the belief that we have all the technology and resources necessary to fix the problems facing our planet,” Garan says, “… and I came to the conclusion that the primary reason we still face so many critical issues lies in our inability to effectively collaborate on a global scale.”
Wanting to use his unique perspective to inspire change, Garan wrote a book called The Orbital Perspective as a first step, which Overview draws upon.
“Overview is also a step in that direction,” he says. “We have a collaborative nature as a human species. We’ve lost that a little bit, and we need to get back to it.”
“I left space with this call to action not to accept the current status quo on our planet, to spread this idea that we can change things, we can change the trajectory of our global society,” says Garan.
“We have the power to reduce the suffering that exists on our planet. We are in a position now,” Garan insists, “where we have tocollaborate to save our lives.”
It’s that very message which comes across so clearly in the film, and touches people in a profound way.
And in the end, we should remember that we are here for only a short while—and are merely … stardust.
by Skippy Massey
This post originally appeared at the Humboldt Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: Getty Images