30 March 2013 | djtodd
A small film with a lot of big ideas that are delivered with style and heart
"Being in the World" is a film that educates one through both the senses and the intellect and, by its end, it provides a powerful but gentle reminder that we, the individuals, must take back our rightful place at the center of philosophy and we do so everyday simply by being in the world. Instead of a narrative or a series of long lectures, we are taken on a ride to visit various practitioners of the arts— primarily musicians—who simply "do" their art. These vignettes are juxtaposed with a series of philosophers, most of whom seem connected in terms of their ideas and interpretations of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who talk about the idea of "being in the world." I found this back-and-forth composition created a certain fluidity thanks to the way the information delivered both tickled my senses and intellect in equal measure. By the end, the aforementioned message slowly sank in and that is what created what is now a genuine appreciation for having viewed the film because I look at my life experience differently.
First of all, this work does not require any special education or training to be understood and enjoyed, although I don't think many would argue that the subject matter alone would unfortunately dissuade many simply because that is the nature of society but the fact that the average citizen is not interested in philosophy, or course, is no fault of the film. Ironically, the very message that one doesn't need to be steeped in philosophy to undertake and enjoy a life rife with meaning is one of the primary themes of the film. This theme might be summed up by stating that by simply "being in the world," we surpass all of the formalized activities associated with what engaging in "philosophy" has come to mean in the modern western world.
Although we're never hit over the head with it, it is the German philosopher Martin Heidegger who stands firmly at the center of the film as it is his iconoclastic work which inspires the ideas that undergird the messages of the various speakers. The fact that Heidegger's work is infamous for being difficult to approach even for the initiated student of philosophy is what makes this film such a gem; the more I think about the film the wider I grin because I can see more clearly how what I initially mistook for an aesthetically pleasing ride with a dose of didacticism ended up being a "reeducation" regarding how important simply "being in the world" and performing our "art" (which I take to mean profession, hobbies, etc.) is in terms of understanding where philosophy has taken us collectively.
"Being in the World" is a small film. Although the film is beautifully composed and we move around the globe, it is obvious that this was accomplished with a comparatively small budget and for me this only adds to the sense of intimacy and trust the work exudes; this is a labor of love, an authentic work of art, and it was created in order to share a message far removed from the commercial world.
It was the feeling with which I was left, however, that sets this movie apart from other, similar films. Walking away from this I felt encouraged and valued by the filmmaker and the "players." Rather than some stale exposition or preachy sermon about why I should change my mind about my life based on some epistemological tendency, I was reminded that my being in the world is what constitutes my life's meaning.