On Earth Day here in Jamaica, I watched “One Day on Earth,” an incredible documentary in which filmmakers across the world spent 24 hours taping on 10.10.10, (October 10, 2010) eventually resulting in 3000 hours of video, sculpted into this breathtaking documentary, described as the first film shot in every country in the world.
The result is not perfect. The running time is a little too long, and the ending feels somehow unsatisfying and incomplete.
Nevertheless, the film is a beautiful one, both in concept and in cinematography. Its beauty lies in its diversity, in its multiple portraits of everyday people from all over the world, in the re-discovery of the moving similarities of our lives and the stark and often tragic differences. The sheer audacity and ambition of the project are impressive.
We see, for example, fishermen in different seas simultaneously at work, and the universal joy when babies are born.
In a later shot, however, we witness severe water shortages in Bali and the Congo, where desperate people drink water from animal troughs and contaminated wells, while developed countries like France, Canada and the United States have surplus water being used for decorative displays and recreational parks.
This a story of the tragedy of war and the giddiness of love, of the grandeur of nature and of the pollution of man.
But above all, it is the story of people on earth on this one day.
People like us.
People unlike us.
One haunting image was that of an Ethiopian woman complaining that her daughter wouldn’t get married and preferred to go to school, and that of all her daughters, this one was the least use to her. We were left to imagine the difficulty of this young girl’s life, the pressure from her mother and community to enter an early marriage, and to pray for strength for her, and for someone to help her withstand the cultural mores which threaten to doom her to poverty and servitude. And that was just one brief moment in the film.
The project founders describe the documentary, which is the first in a series, as “creating a time capsule for the whole world to better understand itself.” Similar work was done on 11.11.11 and there will be a third marathon filming on the 12.12.12. It will be interesting to see how the project directors differentiate the sequels. They have set a high bar for themselves.
Conclusion: Well worth watching