Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Kevin Macdonald.
Produced under the auspices of Ridley and Tony Scott, Life In A Day is a massive and ambitious undertaking that takes advantage of the growth of new technology and access to multi-media that makes everybody a budding Spielberg.
In 2010, Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day In September, etc) asked people to film their lives during one 24-hour period and upload their footage onto YouTube. Then Macdonald and his co-editor Joe Walker faced the daunting task of editing some 4,500 hours of film from 192 countries down into this cohesive 90-minute glimpse into life from around the world. Life In A Day acts as a time capsule and a remarkable snapshot of what life was like on July 24, 2010.
The random footage is loosely linked by a series of questions that the various filmmakers had to respond to – “What do you fear? What do you love?” etc – which provides a thematic structure. The film spans a period of 24 hours, beginning in the early hours of dawn. There is a montage of people getting out of bed and beginning their day. There’s births, marriages and even deaths.
The film travels across various continents to catch a glimpse of people at work and at play. There is a structure of sorts to the montage, and there are some threads continually followed throughout the film. For example, we follow a Korean cyclist who is on an epic around the world journey. And there is some real news footage of a crowd stampede at the overcrowded Love Parade in Germany that is quite disturbing. And the shots of animal slaughter are offputting and upsetting. But there is also some superfluous footage here that adds little, like the teenage boy having his first shave. The film gives us insights into cultures, traditions, love, sex, death, politics, religion, our hopes and fears, and the daily routine of a diverse range of people.
Some of the footage is incredibly personal, like the teenager confessing his homosexuality to his grandmother over the phone, while other snippets are humourous, quirky, and often visually spectacular. Given the origins of the footage, the images are surprisingly crisp and clear, and often quite beautiful.
Harry Gregson-Williams’s string-heavy musical score provides an emotionally satisfying background to the superbly edited montage of images. The marriage of music and images is reminiscent of Godfrey Reggio’s 1983 panoramic epic Koyaanisqatsi.
Life In A Day is an intriguing concept, but there is something a little unsatisfying about the final product.