Last night my best friend and I each chose a pay-per-view movie to watch, and my choice was the documentary “The Human Experience.” It has a very moving trailer, and I thought that I’d be getting a powerful, spiritual boost by watching the film.
It’s the true story of two brothers who set out to see the world, and to gain life experience. In fact, the three segments of the film are titled, “Experience 1,” “Experience 2,” and “Experience 3,” respectively. Their three experiences include living with the homeless in New York City, The Lost Children of Peru, and The Lepers of Ghana.
The film begins in the halfway house in which the brothers live. It isn’t very clear why they live there, along with a friend, but we do hear a rather lot from the younger brother about the bad relationship he has with his father and his lack of love in his childhood home. Later we learn that he hasn’t seen his father for ten years; and as we learn he is twenty at the time of filming, he was ten when his father left. The climax of the film centers around this relationship — or lack thereof — and I won’t reveal any spoiler regarding that.
The disappointing aspect of the film is that these two brothers focus much more on the fact that they are having these experiences rather than what they learn from the people they encounter. The film does not deliver the promised revelation about “the human experience” which is, as advertised in the trailer, the collective and common bond among all of us.
The film includes commentary from experts and professionals including an actor who survived cancer, a priest, a philosopher, the founder of an arts organization, and others. If any comments made the film, theirs did.
The younger of the two brothers adds much of the dialogue. In the beginning, I was a little frustrated with his obvious lack of education, and then I decided to be more positive and appreciate the perspective of a common young man, and to hear how he would interpret and articulate what he would learn. My optimism faded, however, when observing abandoned, abused, and neglected ill children in Peru, homeless people in New York, and lepers in Ghana, he still spent most of his talking time marinating in his issue with his father. I wondered when we’d hear more about the bigger picture. Fortunately, we do hear from those who work with the children, the people living on the streets in New York, and those quarantined in Ghana.
The film wasn’t a complete waste of time. There’s still a message to be had, but one must look past the narrating brothers to get it.
For more information, visit the official website of the film: http://www.grassrootsfilms.com/thehumanexperience/