It was suggested to me that we needed a review of a scary movie for the month of October, so that’s exactly what I did. With a threatening premise of offering enlightenment on enlightenment, the prospect of viewing the documentary What the Bleep Do We Know, was terrifying for a pseudo-nihilistic skeptic such as myself. To be honest, I’m not sure why I watched it. Perhaps it was because so few documentaries get any real recognition. When one comes along that I have heard of from somewhere other than PBS, I figure I better watch it.
I’m glad I did.
What the Bleep Do We Know is a documentary that uses a blend of quantum physics, psychology and spirituality to explore the connections between everything and, well, everything. Fourteen scientists, doctors, clergy, and mystics are interviewed, all with extraordinarily impressive and a few surprising credentials. However, in a departure from traditional documentary filmmaking style, the filmmakers do not introduce their interview subjects until the end of the film. A remarkably wise decision on their part, as it allows the audience to hear all of interviewees’ opinions and ideas on quantum physics, spirituality, self, and choice without being biased by the origin of the thought. It’s nearly impossible to dismiss one subject as a mystic and credit another as a scientist, or vice versa, as their views seem surprisingly similar as they are presented in this film. The line between spiritual enlightenment and scientific inquiry begins to disappear as the two fields strive to understand the same phenomena.
The interviews are tied together by a fictive narrative of a woman named Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, who strives to overcome the stress, turmoil, and unhappiness in her life. As she goes through her day she is confronted/greeted by a number of “guides” and other external influences that cause her to reexamine her view of the world and understand how her own mind shapes the world in which she lives. Amanda’s story serves as a visual aid for the concepts that the fourteen interviewees are discussing.
These narrative segments are entertaining, for the most part, if not entirely necessary.
Although the production quality is good, there are some style elements that are distracting: backgrounds and animation that, though well produced, are just a tad on the tacky side. Nonetheless, this does not significantly detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.
After the reviews I had read, I fully expected this film to be a bunch of new age hooey. After the first time I watched it, I wasn’t sure what I had seen, so I watched it again. After the second time, I thought I liked it, which scared me…so I watched it again. After the third time, I was sure I liked it, and didn’t care what that meant. Maybe my nihilistic edges had been softened a bit. Maybe I needed it. I wouldn’t say the film made me believe, but it definitely made me think about believing.
Reviewed by Maggie