Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth

The information it imparts is often important and definitely enlightening, but, God help us, the general delivery is as dry as dust.

June 21, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1379718-Lottery_Birth_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Raoul Martinez and Joshua van Praag’s Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth addresses many of the world’s ills, focusing on so-called democratic societies which, in terms of the schism between the haves and have-nots and the governing systems which perpetuate it, are anything but equal. To explain all this, the filmmakers rely heavily on theories of behavioral psychology, as espoused by interviewed pundits like physicist Vandana Shiva, psychologist Steven Pinker, historian Howard Zinn, philosopher Daniel Dennett, activist Michael Albert and journalist George Monbiot.

Providing more of a lecture than a film, Martinez and van Praag try to inject visual interest amidst all the talking-heads footage with a plethora of B-roll sequences of everything from 9/11 to Kafkaesque shots of anonymous urbanites prowling their cities in a soulless daily grind of not-too-gainful employment. All this while an almost risibly portentous narrator, who recalls Citizen Kane’s “News on the March” guy, intones observations like “We are not born free and to take our freedom for granted is to extinguish the possibility of attaining it.”

One of the film’s most pressing questions is what happened to the 1960s spirit of revolution, replaced by a universal complacency in the face of recurrent, blatant injustice. Footage is shown from the Milgram experiment, conducted at Yale in 1961, which calibrated people’s obedience to authority figures, even those as heinous as the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis who dreamed up the Holocaust. (Our narrator again: ‘History suggests that there is neither a belief too bizarre nor an action too appalling for humans to embrace, given the necessary cultural influences.”)

To call this film dry would be an understatement, and while it makes myriad strong and valid points, its oppressively didactic approach and overall ambiance, and relative lack of real, lived human experience too often call up the classroom and make it something of an audience endurance test, rife as it is with weighty pronouncements by all those very learned ones. A welcome breakthrough in all this is Shiva’s realization that her education in nuclear research did not take into account the human aspect of the results of radiation, causing her to change career directions. A few more a-ha moments like that, instead of so much prognostic jawing away to illustrate every light bulb glowing in these fervent brains, would have been more than welcome here.


Film Review: Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth

The information it imparts is often important and definitely enlightening, but, God help us, the general delivery is as dry as dust.

June 21, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1379718-Lottery_Birth_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Raoul Martinez and Joshua van Praag’s Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth addresses many of the world’s ills, focusing on so-called democratic societies which, in terms of the schism between the haves and have-nots and the governing systems which perpetuate it, are anything but equal. To explain all this, the filmmakers rely heavily on theories of behavioral psychology, as espoused by interviewed pundits like physicist Vandana Shiva, psychologist Steven Pinker, historian Howard Zinn, philosopher Daniel Dennett, activist Michael Albert and journalist George Monbiot.

Providing more of a lecture than a film, Martinez and van Praag try to inject visual interest amidst all the talking-heads footage with a plethora of B-roll sequences of everything from 9/11 to Kafkaesque shots of anonymous urbanites prowling their cities in a soulless daily grind of not-too-gainful employment. All this while an almost risibly portentous narrator, who recalls Citizen Kane’s “News on the March” guy, intones observations like “We are not born free and to take our freedom for granted is to extinguish the possibility of attaining it.”

One of the film’s most pressing questions is what happened to the 1960s spirit of revolution, replaced by a universal complacency in the face of recurrent, blatant injustice. Footage is shown from the Milgram experiment, conducted at Yale in 1961, which calibrated people’s obedience to authority figures, even those as heinous as the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis who dreamed up the Holocaust. (Our narrator again: ‘History suggests that there is neither a belief too bizarre nor an action too appalling for humans to embrace, given the necessary cultural influences.”)

To call this film dry would be an understatement, and while it makes myriad strong and valid points, its oppressively didactic approach and overall ambiance, and relative lack of real, lived human experience too often call up the classroom and make it something of an audience endurance test, rife as it is with weighty pronouncements by all those very learned ones. A welcome breakthrough in all this is Shiva’s realization that her education in nuclear research did not take into account the human aspect of the results of radiation, causing her to change career directions. A few more a-ha moments like that, instead of so much prognostic jawing away to illustrate every light bulb glowing in these fervent brains, would have been more than welcome here.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Citizenfour
Film Review: Citizenfour

Documentary account of how Edward Snowden leaked intelligence to the world press. More »

Glen Campbell I'll Be Me
Film Review: Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me

Alzheimer's is given an unforgettably human face here, and that face belongs to a music legend. More »

White Bird in a Blizzard
Film Review: White Bird in a Blizzard

A clichéd indie about a girl’s coming-of-age amidst her mother’s disappearance that, despite a sturdy lead performance by Shailene Woodley, is undone by hackneyed, go-nowhere plotting. More »

Exists
Film Review: Exists

Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez returns to the faux-found footage well and hauls out a bucketful of Bigfoot in this derivative but creepy shocker. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here