She's clearly proselytizing; they react predictably. The poet is receptive but amused; the politician wary, then eager to recruit her. And, as the tide rises, the trio, like the world around them, seem to become part of a vast web of relationships.
But is it really a dialogue? The scientist's ideas are the same views Capra espouses in "The Turning Point" and "The Tao of Physics": an ecological, conservationist, feminist agenda close to that of the Greens. And that may be the limitation of "Mindwalk."
Though constructed as a trialogue, even a Socratic one, it often seems closer to a monologue among three elements of Capra's personality: the physicist (his avocation), the poet (his literary skills) and the politician (his desire to transform the world). At the end, the poet and the politician are full of wonder, but the scientist is essentially unchanged--even though her daughter (Ione Skye) tries to promote a romance with the senator.
Ullmann, Waterston and Heard are such expert actors that they're able to bend the script's seeming didacticism: Ullmann by a quiet intensity that recalls her best roles for Ingmar Bergman; Waterston by a halting, gravelly, almost ingenuous phrasing that suggests Jerry Brown trying to be Jimmy Stewart; and Heard by a flow of spontaneous wisecracks, only some of which sound scripted. If the levels of personality aren't too deeply in the script, the actors supply them.
The film was directed by Capra's younger brother, Bernt--making his directorial debut, after working as a production designer on films like "Bagdad Cafe." He's got a designer's eye; it's an unusually good-looking movie. The backgrounds of sea, sky and castle not only give greater presence to the conversation--as does Philip Glass' minimalist score--they act as a metaphor for the kind of society Ullmann says is lost.
Obviously, some people will be scornful: both of "Mindwalk" (MPAA rated PG) and ecological movements in general. Remember Ronald Reagan's cracks about acid rain and "if you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all"?
Still, "Mindwalk" might be a candidate for cult-movie status, and perhaps that's good. Its targets--environmental wreckers and robotized governments--are ripe.
There's only one problem: Just as this movie's conversation suggests one man talking to himself ardently, the often excellent "Mindwalk" is most likely to appeal to people who already agree with it.
Liv Ullmann: Sonia Hoffman
Sam Waterston: Jack Edwards
John Heard: Thomas Harriman
Ione Skye: Kit Hoffman
A Mindwalk Productions/Atlas Company presentation, released by Triton pictures. Director Bernt Capra. Producer Adrianna Aj Cohen. Executive producer Klaus Lintschinger. Screenplay by Floyd Byars, Fritjof Capra. Cinematographer Karl Kases. Editor Jean Claude Piroue. Costumes Bambi Breakstone. Music Philip Glass. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.
Talk is never cheap in movies, but since the 1980s, it's become increasingly rare and shabby. That's why "Mindwalk" is somewhat remarkable. Freely adapted by physicist and popular science author Fritjof Capra from his 1982 "The Turning Point," it's a movie, like Louis Malle's "My Dinner With Andre" or Eric Rohmer's "Ma Nuit Chez Maud," that's about conversation.
Most of the film consists of a discourse on the world, between a trio roaming the French isle of Mont St. Michel. The talk takes place in the hours before the tide cuts off the island and the participants are obvious "types": a vacationing Democratic senator (Sam Waterston), an expatriate poet (John Heard) and a physicist who's cut herself off from society (Liv Ullmann).
As they wander along the terraces and parapets of the stark medieval castle that rises from Mont St. Michel's granite plain--and through the chapels, halls and even torture chambers--the scientist tells the poet and politician about her views of the world.
She believes that it's holistic and interconnected, forever in flux and movement. She speaks disdainfully of the impasse and wreckage wrought by centuries of the industrial revolution, patriarchal governments and, especially, by the Cartesian view of the world as a mechanistic device: a view she thinks inimical, at times, to humanity, the environment, and the meaning and beauty of life itself.
Film Review: Mindwalk
- Length: 1219 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Film Review: Mindwalk
If a good movie is one that makes you think, Mindwalk must be superb. However, I haven’t even read the book it was based on and I can say that the book must have been better. The actors are laughable, and the physicists’ accent changes with each new scene. Furthermore, the transitions to each scene are as smooth as sandpaper. The purpose of this movie wasn’t, and with good reason, to be glamorous though. As many of our “Hollywood” movies are. The fast action, sex, blood, money crazed movies that we all love. The fact that Mindwalk was based on a book also gives some explanation to the choppy scenes, as many omissions were probably made. Financing played a role in the actors chosen for the movie, a kind of ironic humor if you think about it in context to what the entire movie is about. All of this in mind, and the fact that it was a lengthy 2+ hours; it could never be a blockbuster hit. I, on the contrary, enjoyed it. Some of the issues raised are those that many of us think about often, or maybe I am just hoping that I’m not the only one.
As one of the many business majors, the idea of my job being meaningless, or al least not a significant “benefit” to society has crossed my mind. I am in college to compete in our materialistic society for the highest paying job. In other words, I’m in it for the money. Perhaps the “crisis of perception” is something for me to think about, maybe even more than others. I know my reasons aren't in line with the value system I like to portray I have and live by. Yet, I still compromise them; giving myself the excuse that I am doing it all for my future family, or something like that.
The “crisis of perception” is in my life, and everyone's. For instance success for most comes from an education. However that success isn’t associated with the knowledge, but with the money you make as a result. The physicist used the “crisis of perception” example as an explanation of how to fix everything wrong with the world. Explaining that focusing on one piece can’t work, and that everything is “interconnected“. She uses the example of a person with gallstones. A western medicine physician would take the gall bladder out.
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Film Review Value System Haven Excuse Actors Transitions Blockbuster Compromise Hours Benefit
However the physicist explained that whatever issue caused the gallstones, perhaps stress, will cause the person to get sick again. Perhaps that person was the one pursuing a career for money, and not passion or knowledge and therefore they weren't truly happy in their career. Not to say I don’t have a passion for business, I love the thrill of it and the competition. I love the fact that I can change careers on a whim, and that there will always be a job for me. But, the question I give to myself is, would I still pick this profession if money were not a factor? I think society is becoming aware of the fact that we need to look at the “whole picture” though. Especially in regards to health care. With the rising number of Naturopaths, Herbalists, Reflexologies, Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, or practioners in Aruveda techniques. All alternative practices based on holistic healing and the idea that the mind, body, and spirit are one and must be treated together.
We are still, despite rising awareness, stuck in the mode of what is called “mechanistic thinking” by the physicist. She credits Descartes for the start of this thinking; and Isaac Newton for giving it life. Using the clock as an example and how we have replaced many of the old parts with more technological replacements. The clock is not the same as it once was, neither is society. This thinking has expired and it is hurting us now. We need a new way of looking at life in order to adapt.
A way of thinking that the physicist thinks would better suit people now is “ecological thinking”. People have to get a firmer grasp of reality and realize that every problem is related to another problem, and another, and so on. She mentions a personal empowerment of knowledge, and if I am interpreting her meaning of this correctly, not too many people embrace this idea. Knowledge is all to often associated with money and how much of it you have. Knowledge is power, but I think to many of us have the wrong meaning of “power”. If every doctor had an ongoing file of each patients diet, and then gave healthier suggestions that intern the patient followed; we wouldn’t have a need for the tons of prescription drugs that pharmaceutical companies hammer out each year. Or the health foods we spend so much money on; because of the marketing techniques that give us the insane idea that we must all be size 3, or whatever. Omitting the fact that those models may very well still be obese, their body fat percentage is well above the average person. Knowledge is power. Acquiring the knowledge of how to lead a healthy life would start the web of solving many of our problems.
The discussions in the film revolve around personal anguish, and questions about the poet, the politician and the physicist's own lives. And, as each new point or argument is given, a question is also given. And, the answer to this question presented which in turn is presented by another question. This style of dialogue allows the conversation to keep moving, and the speakers to keep questioning the way that they think. This type of conversation can be defined as dialectic; the process of eliciting the truth by means of questions aimed at opening up what is already implicitly known, or at exposing the contradictions of an opponent’s position. And, the goal of this dialogue is to make the viewer think. As it is apparent with in the Poet’s speech in the end of the film. He questions the systems theory and compares it to the mechanistic thinking that the physicist opposed. In this speech he says he feels “just as reduced being called a system as being called a machine...”. He doesn’t think life is that condensable, those are just words, like the seasons changing; “life feels itself” and there are no words to manage it. The systems theory was how the phyisist explained we should look at the world, you can’t look at the trunk of the tree and explain much. You must look at the whole tree in relation to the forest, and the world. How it effects the animals and plants, and vice versa. The poet argued that you couldn’t explain life, and how the world works with such simple words. Life is much bigger than even that. And thus, the movie leaves you to think about much more than you possibly can at one time.
And, so the conclusion. Would I recommend this film? Sure I would, we could all use a little intellectual stimulation. And, I think this movie was very interesting, not only that but for once in my life I sort of understood what physics was all about. The whole orange and cherry example really put it all in perspective