On July 24, 2010 approximately 80,000 people from 192 different countries all uploaded videos to a single YouTube page for the same purpose, to document their days. Academy Award winning director Kevin Macdonald had tasked the world to participate in what seemed to be a modern day time capsule. On the same day, all participants would film all or part of their day, answering a few questions if they felt so inclined. On first glance, it sounds like a terrible idea. There is nothing special about the 24 of July and, for the most part, the videos depict the monotony that no one on earth seems capable of escaping. However, when the 4500+ hours of footage is condensed down and organized into an hour and a half of edited film, the monotony turns into something that unites not just the 80,000 amateur filmmakers, but the entirety of the human race.
Usually when you commend a film director, it is for his amazing work with actors, his keen eye for detail in setting up a scene, or his delicate filming of a gruesome scene. Needless to say, he usually plays a crucial role in the development of the film, but Kevin Macdonald’s greatest accomplishment in this documentary is that he remained humble and kept his influence to a minimum. This is not a story about humans as seen through Macdonald’s perspective, but rather a collection of individual stories woven together seamlessly by Macdonald and film editor Joe Walker. Describing this movie is difficult, as no one scene is all that enticing, but through showing the similarities in our daily routines of waking, eating, working, and resting, Macdonald successfully highlights the similarities between opposing cultures that unite us all.
The movie is, without a doubt, overly optimistic. Save for one scene in which a cow is shot, the movie depicts very little violence. There is no footage of wars or starvation and while the differences between standards of living is apparent, it is done so more to show the superficiality of these discrepancies. It is a documentary that fills you with hope and compassion for your fellow man. Surprisingly, it does not evoke feelings of pity for those less fortunate, but instead feelings of interconnectedness. The movie feels a bit long at times, and sometimes the individuals seem too interesting to only get a few minutes of screen time, but Walker’s editing is so smooth that you don’t spend too much time dwelling on past clips. In its simplest form, this is a documentary meant to capture what living in July 2010 was like, but the film goes further and tells the story instead, of what it means to be human.
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