Judge David Johnson makes his own crop circles in his chest hair. His wife is rarely amused.
The mystery. The deception. The truth.
Crop circles: the result of enterprising, geographical geniuses who stomp around in the middle of the might with boards attached to their feet or cryptic agro-messages from extraterrestrials? A probing question, and one that CircleSpeak, a most excellent documentary, seeks to answer.
Set in the fields of England, CircleSpeak tracks the phenomenon of the crop circles, from when they first appeared in the '70s to their 21st century incarnations. And though these circles are indeed fascinating—ridiculously complex in some instances—the focus of Kirk Kirkland's film rests on the people that inhabit the ongoing supernatural (?) drama. Needless to say, these folks are colorful characters, and range from hardcore alien enthusiasts to hardened skeptics. Kirkland takes his camera into pubs and homes and out to the field, capturing all the idiosyncrasies therein.
Interwoven with the copious interviews is crop circle footage, taken via helicopter, revealing the often exquisite detailing that is involved with the bizarre designs. Perfect circles, intricate shapes, impressively symmetrical geometry all around—but who are the perpetrators?
The more whimsical theorists posit an outer space influence, pointing to the amazing patterns. But Kirkland has tracked down some hooligans who admit to being hoaxers, and have honed their crop-stomping to an impressive craft. It is the tension created between the hoaxers and the believers that proves to be the most interesting aspect of the documentary. The believers are angry at this reveal, and in the film's most memorable scene, at the annual conventions that draws believers to congregate and look at slides and hash out theories, you see emotions of betrayal and disgust visibly boil over. This kind of gut emotional reaction brought to mind another documentary I recently reviewed called Waiting for NESARA. That film also dealt with folks with…er…alternative views on the cosmos and the role extraterrestrials play in human affairs, and both featured these people in scenes of profound emotional impact. Which I find fascinating. Despite the fact that a lot of ideologies espoused by these characters reads like an Isaac Asimov novella, they cling to it and it shapes the purpose of their lives. Hey, more power to them, but when the rug is pulled out from beneath their worldview, the results, captured on film, are engaging and little sad.
Kirkland covers lots of ground here, leaving no corn husk unturned in his quest to provide a complete picture of the mystery. He talks to big time researchers and dudes just hanging around drinking pints. Each has different takes on the phenomenon, and through Kirkland's lens we see small underground societies resting on both ends of the spectrum: the aforementioned believers and the "circlemakers," the folks who take to the fields to make their own creations.
The back of the disc case describes this DVD as "the most comprehensive collection of crop circle material ever produced." I am inclined to side with the self-affixed accolade. For anyone with even a remote interest in the subject, CircleSpeak is a must-see.
Two hours of bonus features supplement the program and are divided into two categories: deleted scenes and interviews. The interviews are very good, fleshing out characters you've seen in the film proper and giving them their extended say. Deleted scenes offer even more footage, including extended aerial takes of the circles.
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