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Wed October 13, 2004
What the Bleep Do We Know!?
A polemic that severely limits its artistic aspirations.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Change your thoughts and you change your world." Norman Vincent Peale
That "power of positive thinking" promulgated by Peale several decades ago didn't seem rooted in anything but an attitude of self-reliance and good will, not quite scientific. Ayn Rand's "objectivism," in which self-reliance reached egocentric heights in "Atlas Shrugged," seemed just another side of the interest in self-interest. Now "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" adds the New Age touch to those philosophies by popularizing quantum physics into a digestible formula stressing the possible made real by neurological and perceptual actions positively applied by each individual.
The narrative, added to the philosophical and mystical musings of talking heads' is a neat device to put into practice the murky quantum questions. Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God") is a divorcee who can't forget her ex's infidelity. As a photographer, she has trouble separating her problems from her art until she is liberated by the Ramtha-drenched philosophy of the entire film, which offers that the observer is actively responsibly for the observed's outcome, a mind-over-matter conception in which our thoughts have powerful effects on ourselves and others. She, in effect "sees" as she did not while a photographer. Although Matlin overacts at times, even irritates with misplaced reactions, she is not the reason to be turned off by the film. The message is clear and irritatingly emphasized: It's New Age Enlightenment, a physiological extreme makeover, something that can be done if you put your mind to it.
The film says, for instance, that one could walk on water if that person willed the act without negativity. Culture builds in that denial by suggesting walking on water is impossible. Poor Jesus, maybe he was just a very positive, but lonely philosopher. The film's evidence for physiological/psychological optimism is supported by the variety of scientists, philosophers, and mystics, some of whom have subsequently disavowed the film after finding out the Ramtha School of Enlightenment underpinnings. Good for them because the film is a polemic that severely limits its artistic aspirations.
The graphics of speeding through the body's fibrous neurological forest seems dated, a low-rent "Tron" or "Fantastic Voyage." Although it is hard to deny the importance of positive thinking, having it barked back from the screen left me negative thinking.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com.