SHE SAID: What the #$*! are they thinking?
The title points to the first thing you need to know about “What tHe #$*! Do wE (k)now!?”Like the unorthodox and oddly detailed spelling, the filmmakers try to do too much.They pack the movie with visual, auditory, intellectual and spiritual overstimulation in an attempt to deliver scientific research to audiences accustomed to VH-1 and reality television shows.The docudrama explodes with more than 300 computer generated visual effects, constant auditory sounds, heady information and a dramatic plot. It’s like crystal meth for the imagination.Five physicists; six neurologists, anesthesiologists and physicians; two spiritual teachers, mystics and scholars; one molecular biologist (and a psychic in a pear tree) present their latest research in the fields of quantum physics and human consciousness.
The film could have been a satisfying, even mind-blowing, documentary if it had limited itself to several – as opposed to 300 – computer animations illustrating neurology and principals of quantum physics. But filmmakers wanted to reach beyond the Discovery Channel, so they decided to throw a little “Matrix” into the equation.Enter “Alice in Wonderland” meets the New Age.Filmmakers intersperse the documentary with a dramatic story about a cynical photographer (Marlee Matlin, winner of an Academy Award for her debut in “Children of a Lesser God” in 1987) who journeys through a fantastical world of perception and created reality.It made me ask, “What the bleep?” Mainstream culture already tends to dismiss research suggesting people create their own reality. So why would filmmakers – who seem to want to further the power-of-conscious-thought paradigm – infuse investigated information with the kind of wishful thinking and fluff that characterizes much of the New Age movement?The dramatic plot could have provided a foundation and intellectual break from the intense ideas experts assert, but instead, it simply distracts from the messages, making them seem a little flaky.
Rather than allow the viewer’s brain to imagine, process and make connections, they subject it to a divorcee’s drama and force it to envision emotions depicted as colorful, rubbery goo apparently inspired by “Flubber.”As if that’s not enough, they sneak a brief sex scene in (at minute 69, to be exact) and try to insert humor during a Polish wedding featuring overweight bridesmaids in neon green and elders demanding polkas.To further add fuel to a skeptic’s mind, the filmmakers don’t identify the experts until the end of the docudrama, and even then, they don’t keep the name and credentials on the screen long enough for the viewer to match the face with the information and credentials.On their Web site, they say they withheld names and titles until the end “for artistic reasons primarily, but also because we felt it was important for the audience to be able to focus on the message being said and not its messengers.”I respect how they’re trying to even the playing field between mystics who may or may not have advanced degrees and scientists, but it doesn’t work in this instance.Sure, the whole point of the movie is to expand our consciousness – to let go of preconceived notions, scholarly accomplishments included. But we still live in this reality, where education counts when someone’s telling you that your internal thoughts create your external reality or that an object can exist in two places at once.
That said, I wouldn’t have missed seeing this movie, because the information it presents can be life altering.It talks about how the brain doesn’t seem to distinguish between memory and experience (the same parts of the brain “light up” whether we are having sex or thinking about sex); how we only perceive or experience what we believe is possible (Native Americans didn’t see Columbus’ ships; they only saw ripples in the ocean because they had no concept of ships); emotions chemically reinforce experiences into long-term memory; we can be addicted to emotions (because heroin attaches to the same cell receptors emotions use); a thought like love or hate can alter the pattern of water molecules (based upon Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research); and mediation can reduce violence in a city by 25 percent (based on a two-month study in Washington D.C.).Fred Alan Wolf, who earned a doctorate in physics, says at the end, “If you study science long enough and serious enough and dig deeply enough, if you don’t come out feeling wacko about it, you haven’t understood a thing.”And if you walk out of the movie wondering, “What the bleep do we really know?” and feeling inspired and overwhelmed at the same time, you may have understood something.Kimberly Nicoletti, known to some as Princess Moonbeam, can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, and at firstname.lastname@example.org and on a mountain top when she’s practicing trilocation.
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