Magazine article The Spectator

All Human Life Is Here

Magazine article The Spectator

All Human Life Is Here

Article excerpt

Life in a Day

12A, Nationwide

Life in a Day is one of those films that shouldn't work at all, and actually doesn't work on paper. On paper, it sounds boring as hell. Person One: 'Shall we go and see the film that's essentially a collection of YouTube clips?' Person Two: 'No. It sounds boring as hell.' And yet it isn't boring as hell, or boring at all. Instead, it is fascinating and moving and funny and uplifting and satisfying and such a stunning love letter to humankind it will truly warm the cockles of your heart, should they need warming. (Mine do, even in June. ) This is, apparently, the largest crowdsourced art project in history - see? See how it doesn't work on paper? - and has been put together by a crack team including Ridley and Tony Scott (producers) director Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, Last King of Scotland) and legendary editor Joe Walker.

The project kicked off when Macdonald asked YouTube users to record one day of their lives (24 July 2010) or any part of that day. They could shoot anything. Their washing routine. Their commute. Their kids. Frying an egg. Eating cheese. Anything. And, if they wanted, they could also answer the following three questions: what do you most love? What do you most fear? What's in your pocket?

The call was heard, and 80,000 videos were submitted, from 120 countries, amounting to 4,500 hours of film which, I think, adds up to six months of non-stop watching. This was then reduced to 250 hours by a team of editors, and then to 90 minutes by Macdonald and Walker. Nope, I can see I've yet to sell it to you; might even have lost you at 'largest crowd-sourced art project in history' and have yet to get you back. But somehow - somehow - Macdonald et al. have spliced the clips together in such a way that they've produced a whole that is not only unified, but also peculiarly magical and affecting. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll see a young man trying to tell his mother he's gay over the phone, and you will be rooting for him. A clip of just a few seconds, yet you're emotionally there and involved. It's miraculous.

Starting at midnight on one day, under a full moon, and finishing at midnight the next, the procession of images seems random but must have been ruthlessly organised. …

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