Life In A Day
Review by Jack Foley
KEVIN Macdonald’s latest documentary is a YouTube backed social experiment that boasts genuine curiosity value even though it’s not entirely successful.
Life In A Day is a user-generated feature film that was shot on July 24, 2010, using a global community to capture a moment of their lives on camera.
In total, more than 80,000 videos were submitted to YouTube, representing over 4,500 hours of deeply personal insights into people’s lives from all over the globe. What Macdonald has done, with editor Joe Walker, is condense them into a 90-minute film that takes viewers on a range of emotions.
The footage ranges from the awe-inspiring (a sequence involving a sky diver, or various shots of the moon), to the touching (a father and son honour the memory of their missing wife/mother), to the banal (people walking to work, going to the loo, etc).
It also poses fascinating insights into the differences and similarities between various cultures (as underlined by the diversity of contributions from the Western World to Africa, Asia and beyond), while showcasing life, death, birth, happiness, sorrow and grief.
There’s nothing too shocking, or even too revealing, but what Life In A Day suggests is that we’re all, ultimately, striving for the same thing: happiness in life and the desire to keep on living.
As such, it’s an optimistic and sometimes inspiring collection of footage, even though there is enough material to pay lip service to the darker moments in everyday life.
True, some of it does feel manipulated, while there’s no doubting the material has been carefully vetted and selected to provide maximum reach and viewing pleasure.
But Macdonald does enough to keep viewers curious and to mostly dispel the suspicion that those who contributed merely represent a self-serving portion of the planet who (like Facebook addicts and regular Tweeters) love to feel they’re important and continually contributing (a suspicion heightened more in the Western World footage than the developing countries).
As such, his film is there to be shot down just as much as it is to be enjoyed. It’s no masterpiece but rather like a museum exhibit, this visual time capsule has as much to recommend it as does to criticise along the way.
Watch the trailer
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD Release Date: October 31, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Kevin Macdonald interview
- Life In A Day photo gallery