What the Bleep Do We Know?!

Starring: Marlee Matlin
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 September 2005

Starring Best Actress Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin (
The West Wing), this part documentary/part narrative film blends elaborate visual effects and animation with interviews on themes related to the body, mind and soul. What The Bleep Do We Know?! poses the most fundamental of questions including What am I doing here? What are thoughts made of? What is reality? The sensational impact of the film on its audience internationally has stunned critics and distributors alike...

I'm sorry, but I just didn't get the point of What the Bleep Do We Know?! The idea was great; to have a serious debate about consciousness and how we perceive the world around us. Sadly it is handled by a group of people who seem to know little about film making, let alone the topics raised.

It would seem that the producers came up with the idea, went around to several self-proclaimed specialists in various fields, interviewed them and then were so baffled by the resulting hours of footage that they had to create a really poor narrative to tie everything together. Then, in-between this story, they dubbed over the odd soundbite which, more often than not, are taken completely out of context.

The press release compared this movie to Super Size Me and Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't think so. These two movies both set out to inform the audience without patronising them. What the Bleep... just chucks random thoughts out hoping you'll get confused and go away thinking that you've watched something intellectual.

Now, if we'd have had the experts centre stage and then had short segments were actors were shown in similar environments, it would have worked. But no, we get some half thought out story about a deaf photographer. What is all that about? She'd have to be deaf to put up with her annoyingly chirpy lodger... but I digress.

It's not that I am a lowbrow sort of guy myself. There are some arguments here that I used to love indulging in as a student (albeit late at night with a bottle of wine inside me). Like, why do a lot of woman who finally escape from abusive relationships end up going out with another man who treats them just as bad? This general theme is tackled in this DVD, but not very well.

Also I like to know who the 'experts' are before I start taking them seriously. While we are given all of the interviewees credentials at the end of the movie, it would have been much better to have had them when they first appeared. It's nice to know whether it's a nutter or a scientist that's trying to shove their theories down your throat.

There's no real structure to the discussions (that's why the silly photographer storyline is slung in there - to make us believe that there is cohesion to the narrative). I read and loved Mark Rowlands's Philosopher at the End of the Universe, even if I did disagree with several points (see my review), so it's not like I didn't get the arguments being discussed here. Actually it was interesting to see that this DVD disagrees with one of the philosophical arguments in Rowlands's book - that we can not affect our future as it is already predetermined by all the events in our past. What the Bleep... believes that we can. But then that's philosophy for you isn't it? There's no right or wrong theory. You can claim just about anything and be heralded as a genius.

On a technical point of view I was a little lost to see a trailer for the 2 disc DVD release... As far as I'm aware there is only a 2 disc set for sale (but then we were only sent the one DVD for review - so I can't even comment on the extras). Not only that, but this was an unskippable trailer that you are forced to watch the entire way through.

In short this DVD was too disjointed to actually throw anything out for the general viewer to grab a hold on. I very much suspect that anyone who enjoys this release doesn't really have a handle on philosophy at all. In fact the only really impressive thing about this release was that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Quark (Armin Shimerman) makes a couple of very brief appearances.

But then, what the bleep do I know?!

Darren Rea

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