Around the world in 24hours

May 17, 2012 1:58 pm

Every day we gain insights into people’s lives: the news, novels, theatre, friends, family, our own life – but what does it tell us about what life on earth is like? How do you capture the essence of ‘Life’ on our planet? Kevin Macdonald had a go at it with his film ‘Life in a Day’, recording moments from people all around the world – on one single day.

July 24, 2010: Core day for producer Ridley Scott and over 80,000 people participating in the project ‘Life in a Day’. This day has been put into a time capsule and when seeing the films, we experience what our planet is like right now: in the 21st Century, anywhere in the world. When sitting down to see a film by YouTube, filmed by “you”, we don’t know what to expect. Best case scenario is a sequence of home videos of poor quality, shaky hand held camera and no storyline. And yet, ‘Life in a Day’ is probably one of the most emotional and compelling films made in a long time.

Against all expectations, the film is a piece of art, full of wonderful footage, colourful and moving. Most of the film makers participating in the project have experience, their own YouTube channel or are professionals who decided to follow someone for the occasion. The result is a film made of mostly professionally shot footage and few, but impressive and touching, amateur sequences. In only a few captions the audience has such a personal view of someone else’s life that it seems like they learn all about them: what touches them, what they have endured in life or simply what makes up their every day.

This is emphasised with the three simple questions director Macdonald wants the film makers to answer: What do you fear? Who do you love? What do you have in your pocket? The answers are diverse, but in the end they bring us closer to those people who we don’t know, but who – so it seems – we know everything about. One thing we learn from watching this is how diverse one day can be; from a shoeshine boy in Peru to the disaster of the Love Parade in Duisburg, through illness, boredom, birth, faith, war, weddings, disappointments, and simple everydayness. With harmonious music and sometimes breathtaking scenes, Macdonald takes the audience all over the world, to see holy rituals, first experiences, travels, traditions and joys of life, but also cruel scenes. Harsh realities that we tend to suppress were included in the film and they are definitely part of the everyday. However, I think they should probably have been left out or only hinted at, as they completely disrupt this otherwise voluptuous film.

From 4500 hours of footage from 192 countries, Scott has made an absolutely rivetting film documenting what ‘Life’ is, and what it is about. After the success of Life in a Day, producer Ridley Scott started a new project. Together with director Morgan Matthews, they invited people, on a slightly smaller scale, to participate in Britain in Day. 11,526 individual films shot all across the UK were submitted and the film is now close to being complete. I look forward to it with anticipation.

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