Directed by Tom Shadyac
Review by Seth Rogovoy
Only the most closed-minded and hard-hearted viewers will fail to be moved by the amazing exploration of what it means to be human in director Tom Shadyac’s documentary, I Am.
Triggered by a near-death experience, Shadyac – previously known for and ridiculously enriched by such Hollywood fluff as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor – sets out to do nothing less in this film to figure out what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it.
He takes his camera and a crew of five and travels the world interviewing intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Marc Ian Barasch, Coleman Barks), scientists (Elisabet Sahtouris, Dacher Keltner, Rollin McCraty, Lynne McTaggart, Dean Radin, David Suzuki), and spiritual leaders (Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama), and winds up constructing parallel narratives – one that does an amazing job in successfully defining the problem – we have lost touch with our essential humanity, which is empathic, cooperative and non-violent – and the solutions – to live mindfully and cultivate those qualities that bring us together in times of crises – and the other tracing his own journey from crass materialism to enlightenment.
Perhaps the film’s greatest achievement is to use the latest in scientific research to debunk long-held scientific notions that have often been used to prop up materialistic viewpoints – “greed is good,” “survival of the fittest” – opposed to any notion of spirituality or energy life, and in fact uses science to prove ancient wisdom and spirit knowledge. Contrary to conventional thinking, Shadyac shows, with the aid of science, cooperation and not competition may be nature’s – and man’s — most fundamental operating principle
No doubt there are those who still won’t ‘believe,” claiming that the “science” is faulty. As we know all too well, there will always be fundamentalists among us. What the film teaches us, however, is to have empathy and compassion for these broken-hearted souls and to be mindful of our every word and deed, as like those butterfly wings in Brazil, they have consequences far beyond anything we might ever imagine – today and forever.
If ever there was a must-see film, this is it.