Human: The heavens as glimpsed from Earth
by Bénédicte Prot
- VENICE 2015: You don’t know it yet, but this wonderful film, a gift from photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, will mark a watershed in your life. It’s a film that will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema
On 12 September, the same day on which the United Nations and 500 French cinemas received their copies, the 72nd Venice Biennale had a visitation from the documentary to end all documentaries, a work of indescribable beauty and intensity and a pure act of love entitled Human [+see also:
film profile]. Watching this film is an unforgettable and profoundly physical experience that will leave you powerless to hold back the tears. It hits you right in the heart with a force that you will continue to feel for a long time afterwards, as heavy as cement and as light as a feather.
How can I describe it? Think about the word “human”. Imagine everything that word suggests to you, from the microscopic to the immense: vulnerability, generosity, cruelty, fear, death, innocence, sorrow, family, love, hope... It’s all here in Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Human, melded into the film’s pure, sensitive complexity. In just three hours, we are introduced to a kaleidoscope of faces whose stories were gathered over more than two years, in sixty countries and in countless different languages. There are people from all ages, races and places, and they all crack open their hearts with a candidness and truth that is deeply moving. By responding to the same questions, they take us down many different paths that all lead to one destination: a place impossible to describe through language but that we all know to lie at the very heart of what it means to be human.
This refusal to reduce humanity to a single voice makes Human a uniquely beautiful piece of cinematographic fusion. It stands out by showing us what has always been there, and in its celebration of the singularity of every human being, it reminds us that this is the very thing we all have in common. It’s a film that shows humanity in its best light (or at least, that was how this author chose to interpret it), and, by letting others speak, it brings us the definitive word on our kind.
The visceral impact that any normal human being would feel on seeing this film is intensified by the poignant grandeur of the impossibly beautiful images shot by this renowned photographer (best known for his photographs of the Earth seen from the air), interwoven with the thousands of intimate and remarkable accounts to which we listen in wonder. A majestic and powerful score lifts us up out of the baseness that often seems to saturate this world, transporting us to a lofty state in which everything can be forgiven and everybody can come together.
If cinema, and art in general, really can change the world, then Human is that universal work of art with the power to make its affecting message heard. It is no surprise, then, that it could only be brought to the screen (thanks to the support of the Bettencourt Schueller and Goodplanet foundations) as a non-commercial production — and Yann Arthus-Bertrand is inviting anyone and everyone to request a copy (see the website here).
(Translated from French)
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