Undoubtedly one of the more ambitious documentaries I’ve seen in quite some time, Life in a Day follows the global life of July 24th, 2010.
How is this done?
A few months prior to the films construction, producers Tony and Ridley Scott asked anyone and everyone to document their day on the 24th of July – send it in and contribute to this once in a lifetime feature.
While there’s no denying the ambition, one must applaud the editors of the film. Condensed from 4,500 hours of archival footage – from 192 countries around the world – Life in a Day is a mere 95 minutes. Which unfortunately, still fells too long.
Though with very little narrative, the film attempts to create some arch of storytelling by asking three poignant questions to all those participating:
What’s in your pocket?
What do you love the most?
What do you fear?
These are all reasonable questions that can be answered by anyone – regardless of cultural bearings or economic status. The responses to these thoughtful inquisitions alternate from person to person. Some have nothing in their pocket. Some love their car the most. Some fear nothing. Some fear insects. The wide array of responses is an allegory to how unique we all are from one another.
On a personal level the film attempts to capture what I often think about: at this moment, what is someone else doing with his or her life. It astonishes me that even while I cobble together my thoughts and words onto this page, someone else in the world is fighting in a war, eating cereal for breakfast, sitting in their car listening to radio, searching and begging for food, and so on and so forth. There’re moments of curiosity in the documentary that spark a fuse – pity it’s burned out by the end.
The ambition of the project ultimately overrides the execution. Life in a Day never seizes to be fascinating, but its mixed tones, messages, and narrative never gel into anything worth recounting or remembering. It’s more of an experiment than a final product.