Take a giant bleep
"What the Bleep Do We Know?" tries to convince you that a vague understanding of quantum physics can somehow help you find inner power, but if you detect an aroma of culty wackiness from its talking-head "experts," that's no accident.
By JOSHUA TANZER
The "Bleep" in "What the Bleep Do We Know?"
stands for only one of the three words the film dares not say. The other
two are "Transcendental" and "Meditation."
This is not a movie to be seen
in theaters it's a movie to be dragged into by smiling cultists who
approach you on the street and say, "Want to watch a free video that could
change your life?" Once you're sucked into their little world, some highly
scholarly-looking on-screen authorities (many of them have beards) will
offer you little morsels of enlightenment. Despite the nagging sense of
inner loopiness you might pick up from these people, don't think of them
as wackos. What they have to tell you is pure ... science!
|WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW?|
|Directed by: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente.|
Written by: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Matthew Hoffman.
Cast: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, Barry Newman, Robert Bailey Jr., John Ross Bowie, Armin Shimerman, Robert Blanche, David Albert, Marsha Clark, Amit Goswami, John Hagelin, Ramtha, Jeffrey Satinover, Jeff S. Dodge, William Tiller, Fred Alan Wolf.
Cinematography: David Bridges, Mark Vicente.
Edited by: Jonathan P. Shaw.
Related links: Official site
Much of the
scientific information in the movie is, to the best of my knowledge,
authentic and irrelevant. If you know that atoms are mostly empty
space, does that mean you can reorder matter and walk on water? If you
know that particles travel in indeterminate paths, does that mean you can
be in two places at once? If you know that brain chemicals affect the
body, does that mean you can remove cellulite through positive thinking?
The film's great scientific minds say yes, although my lesser mind says
Just when you think you might be one or two scenes away
from learning something, one of these people lets loose with a total
head-scratcher that reinforces the suspicion that you're dealing with
charlatan weirdos. "[Earth] is the only planet in the Milky Way that is
habitated that is steeped in the subjugation of religion," a voiceover
says suggesting that the filmmakers have used astral projection to make
a thorough study of the spiritual practices of the galaxy. Another source
refers, without explanation, to "the four layers of the bio-body suit,"
whatever the bleep that's supposed to mean.
Luckily, in addition to
bio-body suits, science has also brought us the Internet, so it's easy to
find out who the bleep these so-called authorities are and most of them
show up in connection with the Transcendental Meditation movement. Physics
Ph.D. John Hagelin was even the TM-linked Natural Law Party's presidential
candidate. Another source prominently featured in the film is the "spiritual
adviser" Ramtha, who, despite currently occupying the middle-aged,
bleached-blonde, glassy-eyed body of '80s new-age guru J.Z. Knight, is in
fact a 35,000-year-old warlord from Atlantis. Actress Marlee Matlin is added, in some dramatic scenes that illustrate the film's ideas, to lend the whole project an undeserved whiff of mainstream credibility.|
Now, people are entitled to believe whatever they want, and if they want to meditate for world peace and inner strength, that's great. But caching their spiritual beliefs behind a scientific veneer is unnecessary, and knowing there's some hidden agenda behind all their happy talk is just creepy.
At a basic level, you might get something out of the film's gloss of
physics and physiology, but you'd surely learn more from any episode of
"Nova." You might be convinced that the power of positive thinking and the
mind-body connection can help you in life, but you'd surely be better
served by reading some combination of psychology, Alan Watts and halfway decent self-help literature. By comparison, this movie's unmade connections
between gee-whiz science clichÄs and new-age spiritual hokum will only
leave you thinking, why the bleep should I care?
|SEPTEMBER 8, 2004|
OFFOFFOFF.COM THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK
Reader comments on What the Bleep Do We Know?:
Hmmmmmm from aguynamedguyinTX, Sep 10, 2004
bleep from Belmo, Nov 29, 2004
Oh, Joy from Brent Butt, Jan 30, 2005
Really? from Ted Bonerz, May 16, 2006
Post a comment on "What the Bleep Do We Know?"