With Life in a Day, producers
Ridley and Tony Scott and director Kevin Macdonald have created an utterly
unique cinematic concoction of real life stories, set on a literally international
scale. The concept is simple:
filmmakers from around the world were asked to document their experiences on
the 24th of July 2010 using a camera.
To this end, over four thousand hours of footage were produced, and
buried within that treasure trove of film lay the ninety four minutes that make
up this mind blasting array of humanity on screen.
Opening with an alternately humourous and sobering montage of people
in various countries rising to greet the morning sun, Life in a Day instantly strikes you with it’s creative originality. A feat of editing if ever there was
one, the way in which the footage has been assembled is exhilarating. Wondrous moments hidden in the mundane,
which would normally be forgotten right after being experienced, are preserved
for all to see. As the day
develops, we begin to catch glimpses of individual stories: a Chinese widower
teaches his son to burn incense for his mother; a young boy’s emotions overflow
as his family struggles to live with his mother’s battle with cancer. At opposite ends of the planet, as one
human celebrates, so another grieves.
The point that comes across clearly is that as a race we are restless,
always on the brink of some new tragedy or jubilation.
It seems a miracle that such a balance is achieved between simply
presenting the raw facts of the original footage, and packaging it as a message
that the Scotts and Macdonald wanted to deliver. We are encouraged to care for our fellow men and women,
without ever being preached to.
It’s a cry for help from those in poverty, a shout of joy from those in
love, and a composed warning from those versed in danger.
The compelling soundtrack starts with subtle vibes permeating the
mosaic of stories, and steadily increases in prominence as the images thunder
along. The film has structure
beyond simply following the day’s progress chronologically, in that there are
sections covering the loves and fears of people throughout the world, ranging
from the simple and obvious to the deep and moving. Life and death are intercut to devastating effect. Placing faltering births alongside
final breaths, Macdonald dares us to consider the deepest questions out
there. Who are we? Where are we going, and of course: why?
As a project Life in a Day succeeds
awesomely at creating an all-encompassing profile of who we, the human race
are. Disturbing themes are
apparent in the hopes and cares of folk across the globe. The world over we are afraid of dying,
and beyond that of being forgotten.
Whatever the answers, Macdonald ensures that none of the people featured
will be forgotten, and that through their memory future generations will be
able to watch what their recent ancestor’s lives were like, thereby learning
more about their own ambitions, dreads, and perhaps even where their existences
are leading. Whether you are a
spiritual cinema goer or not, Life in a Day will
stir your soul.