Docurama // 2010 // 58 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // August 4th, 2010
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley was one of the most famous writers of the mid-20th century. He is best known for his dystopian novel "Brave New World." Huxley was also (in)famous for his experimentation with psychedelic drugs and the resulting book, "The Doors Of Perception," about his experience with mescaline. And yes, the band "The Doors" derived their name from Huxley's book.
Huxley On Huxley presents a slice of Huxley's life, following his second marriage to Laura Archera. Archera was an Italian-born musician that immigrated to the United States. By the late 1940s she had moved to Hollywood to become a filmmaker and in the process became close friends with Huxley and his first wife, Maria. In 1955, Maria died of cancer. In 1956, Huxley and Archera married. They were together until he died of cancer in 1963.
This documentary is built around interviews with Laura (well into her 90s at the time and incredibly astute) and with the purported purpose of offering insight into the life of Aldous. However, this is not what is delivered. Laura tells many stories about their time together, such as Huxley's near blindness and his "controversial" eye exercises, the celebrity parties they attended, and how their California home burnt down in 1961. As for insights about him, or her for that matter, there is little to none. For example, much of the film is devoted to Huxley's drug fascination, but we never learn why he became so enamoured with psychedelics. Further, there are a few mentions of Huxley's fondness for "The Tibetan Book Of The Dead," but the reasons for this affection are not revealed. Additionally, and oddly, there is little about how Laura spent her time after Aldous's passing. There are some references to a book she wrote, "This Timeless Moment," but, as with everything else, not much depth.
The film also contains interviews with friends and acquaintances of the Huxleys, including Don Bachardy (Chris and Don. A Love Story), Nick Nolte (Affliction), and fellow psychedelic user and associate of Timothy Leary, Ram Doss (aqua. Richard Alpert, which some readers will recognize as the name of a central character from Lost). A few interesting stories are told, but that's it.
The technical aspects of the release are adequate. The video quality is acceptable, but not great by any stretch. The same goes for the stereo sound.
The extras include 46 minutes of interview outtakes and a photo montage.
For a documentary about two interesting people, Huxley On Huxley is quite boring. If you really want to learn about these people your best option is to read the books they wrote.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Interviews
* Photo Montage
* Official Site