by Ken B.
About 40 minutes into Life in a Day, I realized something. This is nothing more than a collection of home movies – with trippy music and the occasional insert of colorful city skylines. I suppose that it’s meant to be a time-capsule-y thing for future generations. With that being said, why is it available to us now? Most time capsules are stuffed under the earth for 40 or 50 years. It trying to be said time capsule is obvious. Events documenting the emotional makeup of modern human existence that would typically be reserved for immediate family (proposals, weddings, coming outs, births, etc.) are featured front and center here. If this movie is reserved for future generations for a look at early 21st century Earth, they may be able to tell nothing more than the fact that we were huge narcissists. And we believed Bohemians holding up cardboard with words scrawled on it was the proper way to introduce segments in a documentary.
Life in a Day takes a high-concept idea and does nearly nothing with it. After the novelty wears off, this movie completely dies and it simmers on. But the effort is admirable. The documentary is a massive crowd-sourced project. On July 24, 2010, people of YouTube were instructed to document their day, and upload it to the website. 4,500 hours of video were collected from 192 countries, according to the main titles. The goal to document one day on Earth, one could say, succeeded. Many, many people on the same day. While it is interesting to consider how different the day is for everyone, I wonder if 95 minutes was really necessary to express this truth.
There are positives to be had. Some of the people we follow have interesting stories. The overhead shots of cities that occasionally pepper the user-submitted videos are quite beautiful. These are positive enough where they are capable of remaining with you long enough after their completion so that the total Time-Waster factor is relatively low. For a film that can appear so bloated and disconnected at times, Life in a Day must be appreciated for overall lack of ambiguity. It does have a point: This Is Who We Were. The standard folk from North America, to Europe, to Asia, the ambitious people, such as a Korean biker who had been traveling the world for the past 9 years and 36 days and been to 190 countries. Where in Korea he’s from, “It doesn’t matter whether North or South Korea”, he replies, and passively informs us that he’s been hit by cars 6 times, to cosplayers in full SW garb who inform us they “like girls” (nerd stereotypes are true. They want to have a girlfriend, but they’re scaring them away by being Darth Vader on a regular basis).
The human existence is formed completely in Life in a Day. Births of human lives (and the fathers who faint in the delivery room), the human successes (proposals), and the human tragedy, encompassed in this quote:
“I asked her if she wanted to go on a romantic date with me – and she said no.”
Oh, and technological innovation, encompassed in a gentleman telling us this:
“I actually love my refrigerator. It’s such a cool thing. It remains at one corner. It keeps its mouth shut. I love my refrigerator. Nothing else but my refrigerator!”