"The Human Experience" DVD Review
March 30, 2011 by Zach Demeter
We are all searching for answers to the most basic questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Do we really matter? Features insight and commentary from spiritual leaders and philosophers including: Anna Halpine, Dr. William Hurlbut, Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Dr. Alveda King, and Rev. Richard Neuhaus.
In a world fraught with hostility and violence, an altruistic group of young men endeavor to understand the true essence of the human spirit by visiting forgotten souls such as homeless New Yorkers, Peruvian orphans and isolated Ghanaian lepers. By spotlighting heartwarming stories from around the world, this uplifting documentary shows viewers that every single person, no matter his or her lot in life, is beautiful. Gorgeously filmed and masterfully narrated, THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE explores with depth and compassion what it means to be a human being.
Chances are if you’re around the film festival scene or anything relating to it you’ve seen or heard about The Human Experience. The film has been around since 2008 and for whatever reason we’re just now getting it on DVD. The documentary has won numerous awards, but more importantly it has inspired and moved countless individuals to look into their own heart and souls to try and discover what it means to be human. This documentary is by no means light material—it’s very weighty and if you’re not in the mood for a mental revolution/cleansing then you’d probably be best to ignore this film as it will definitely present you with some revolutionary thought processes as well as a flood of emotions.
The film is divided into what are essentially three segments. All three portions follow the same brothers as they experience a week on the streets of New York and see what it means to be homeless and all of the trials and tribulations that come along with it. They interview homeless individuals as well as live the life for themselves, begging for food and doing their best to fight one of the coldest weeks on record in New York. From there the film moves onto the lost children of Peru and as they did with the homeless in New York, our brothers connect with the children through simple forms of laughter and human interaction. From there the film travels to Africa and it’s there the brothers visit those suffering from HIV/AIDS as well as visiting a leper colony. Even in areas of such despair they still manage to find hope and smiles from those they talk with and connect with anyone and everyone simply because we are all human.
This is definitely a very engaging and deeply emotional film to witness. I was surprised that it had a PG-13 rating on the back, but after watching it I can definitely see why—this isn’t material meant for everyone. True, it is really just about humans but there are some emotionally jarring elements to being human and this film really tackles them all in a way that is both eloquent and poignant. It really was a remarkable film and I’m glad to have been finally able to enjoy it—I’m truly surprised it took this long for such a film to find a distributor for the home video market. This is definitely a Highly Recommended production.
New Video/docuramafilms brings The Human Experience to DVD in a standard amaray DVD case. Nothing overly special about the presentation of the documentary here—no fancy exterior cardboard slipcase and the cover itself looks rather simplistic. Video and audio is a solid presentation overall and about what you’d expect from a documentary. As can be expected from a documentary the video is in 1.85:1 and the audio is a simple DD5.1 mix with the majority of the track focused in the front channels. Extras include:
Commentary with filmmakers
Subtitled in Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, German, and French.
The commentary is definitely a must-listen if you enjoyed the film; even though the documentary by its very nature gave us insight into the condition, this just gives us an even deeper look into what everyone involved with the film went through as well. Also it may seem odd to actually list the subtitles as extras but I thought it was appropriate in this case—even though the documentary is in English, it is something that transcends language. Highly Recommended.
The Human Experience arrives on DVD on March 29th.