Virgil Films // 2011 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // November 19th, 2011
"We asked people around the world to film their lives and answer a few simple questions. We received 4,500 hours of video from 192 countries...all of it shot on a single day: 24th July 2010."
What National Geographic and YouTube put together from the material shot on July 24, 2010, with the help of Tony and Ridley Scott, was Life in a Day, about a hour-and-a-half of ordinary people doing ordinary things on an ordinary Saturday. There is some footage from a German Love Parade that ended in a stampede, but most of it isn't all that dramatic. Still, even if it's not a Jack Bauer kind of day, it's not boring.
Mostly it's a mosaic of brief snippets gathered by theme (such as mornings or love), with the occasional longer clip. You'll be surprised at how interesting the ordinary can be; I could never have imagined myself watching someone talk about elevators with rapt attention.
To get people talking about themselves, the film team asked some questions. You'll see a woman, asked what's in her purse, show a lot of flags -- and something that protects against evil eyes. The longest of these segments asked "What do you love?" Star Wars stormtroopers and Elvis impersonators are among those who answered. You'll also see people celebrating their families or their faith, a man who loves his cat most of all, a gay man telling his grandma about his boyfriend, and a long-married couple renewing their vows in the presence of a profane clergyman. Later on, a military wife is seen washing her hair for a "date" via Internet camera with her husband stationed overseas.
There's the occasional dramatic shot of a bicyclist riding through the streets of Kathmandu or of skydivers, but the camera work is mostly simple and the pictures are mostly of typical small electronic device quality. There are a few bits of music to supplement, but not too much. I had a screener, and found the images of acceptable, but seldom spectacular, quality.
In addition to profanity, there's a rather bloody animal butchering in there, so it might not be for everyone, but it's mild fare for the most part.
It's perhaps most telling that Life in a Day ends with a woman who laments that "nothing really happened" in her life on July 24, 2010, despite her yearnings for something exciting to send in for the film. As it turned out, that routine day -- and her complaint -- was just what she needed for her minute or so of fame, and the filmmakers needed to end a rather ordinary day.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Official Site