Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quantum Bleep: "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" (2004)

Forget what you think you know about yourself and the world around you. This is the most fun you will ever have learning about quantum physics.

The film's writers and directors show their brilliance early. This could have been a slow, dreary documentary about how we can change our lives, control our options, and affect the world around us. There are interviews with learned men and women who try to put these heady theories into terms we can understand.

In order to illustrate the various points, Marlee Matlin plays Amanda, a photographer who is a lot like us. She is going through a rough patch in her life, and is overwhelmed by her environment. This all comes to a head at an assignment at a wedding in the same church she was married at. Interspersed through Amanda's day are the interviews. The dramatization then shows us how the philosophical ideas are used by Amanda and her brain.

The quantum physicists all come from different backgrounds, but say the same thing- we have created the world we live in, and we can change it if we want to. We are merely carbon based bio suits holding a supercomputer in our heads, and we have been programmed to act the way we act due to external expectations and our own view of how the world should be. Emotions are biological processes, and we have all become addicted to how our world tells us to behave, and what we should want out of life. We can not only change our reality, but our entire life if we learn to look at the world around us differently, expand our knowledge, and controversially, stop waiting for that reward from God in the next life.

One interview subject, whose identity I do not want to reveal until you see the film, puts it this way: God is so immense and great, how could your digressions affect him one way or another? Another interviewee says we should not live lives of depravity, but dwelling on the hereafter is interfering with the here and now. This is argumentative stuff, but anyone burned by organized religion will take the film seriously. The film makers credit the interviewees only at the end, and the one who was making the most sense is the one most would consider the flakiest. Aging is merely a lack of protein getting to the right spots in the body, does nutrition really play a major role in how old we become?

"What the Bleep Do We Know!?" (also known as "What the Fuck..." and "What the #$*!...") is complicated stuff. Living this transcendent knowledge through Matlin's (who is great, by the way) character certainly helps bring it to a level we can all understand, without ever dumbing it down or making the viewer feel like an idiot. The film left me thirsting for the very knowledge it is trying to explain.

In the end, I realize I don't know too much, and if a film propels me to learn more (about quantum theory and the world in general), then it has succeeded in many ways. You will never look at science the same way again, and I shudder at how many arguments "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" is going to generate. (* * * * *) out of five stars.