If you were to tell me that the guy who directed the blockbuster comedies: Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, and Bruce Almighty will make a documentary about an inquiry into the nature of life and its purpose – I probably wouldn’t have taken you too seriously. Except that he did. And it’s good.
I had the privilege of being at the pre-screening last night and was blown away by the film and its message. Tom Shadyac is in front of the camera for his film, "I AM", interviewing people, like Desmond Tutu, John Francis, Coleman Barks, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, among many others. It weaves his own personal story of Hollywood fame and a bicycling accident that led him into a lot of pain, which eventually got him to inquire further into his own existence.
The film focuses on two questions: what’s wrong with our world? And what can we do to make it better?
This entertaining film manages to seriously question the nature of nature and scientifically question science. It takes us through a journey of our own hearts and minds through the use of latest technologies. We’ve all heard of mirror neurons, which cause us to literally feel another person’s pain. With some researchers, he actually shows us the influence that each of our thoughts have on other living things (like the bacteria in a dish of yogurt, for example); and fascinatingly, how people in a conversation register each other's heart beat in their brain, without any physical contact. To some extent, we all understand that we’re interconnected, and yet that could seem a little abstract to some. This movie helps open our minds. And if we’re already open-minded, expand it further.
One question that’s always baffled me is: at a biological level, are we naturally born to cooperate or to compete? In Darwin’s, “The Descent of Man,” the word “love” is used 95 times while his most famous phrase, “survival of fittest,” appears only twice. Why are we as a society taught what we’re taught? Why not survival of the kindest? These are the big questions that are asked and answered, in an entertaining way. :) It differs from other documentaries of this nature that, it’s fun. I found myself laughing through much of it. It presents serious topics, but it’s not serious. In some sense, that’s where the experience of editing major films comes in handy. Tom Shadyac goes on a personal journey of discovery and takes us along.
A newspaper had asked a number of authors to write on the topic: “What’s wrong with the world?” Chesterton’s answer at that time was the shortest of those submitted – he simply wrote: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton”. Shadyac shows us that perhaps the answer to: what is right with the world, can also be – I AM.