[Videolib] Philosopher's Paradise - new documentary on philosophy

Steve Fesenmaier (fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us)
Wed, 01 Dec 2004 14:46:55 -0500

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Philosopher’s Paradise
Reviewed by Steve Fesenmaier, Nov. 30, 2004
Pawel Kucynski, a Polish-American filmmaker, has created a very nice
film about contemporary philosophy. Mixing personal documentary, as in
Ross McElwee’s works – “Sherman’s March,” now “Bright Leaves,” and a
sense of drama as in the Canadian feature, “The Barbarian Invasions,”
this super-home movie is about a father and son and the family, as are
McElwee’s films.
There is a paradise in the film – a religious community with that name.
But it also refers to the philosophy/religion his father, the founder of
“universalism” wants to create. It is important to know that the father
decided to create this philosophical religion after the collapse of
Communism and the Berlin Wall. Apparently there are now believers from
around the world, and we get to meet several of them.
The crisp, often beautiful images are combined with ethereal music That
definitely puts the viewer into the proper mood. It is also nice that
after a few minutes of it, the director returns to more mundane
realities. At the end of the film, we see the philosopher father in the
hospital, as the professor is in “The Barbarian Invasions.” Luckily, the
film doesn’t spin off into a melo-drama about 9/11 even though there is
one 9/11 scene in the film. All of human life post-9/11 does have some
direct link to it – even in Poland.
I found this wonderful little film on the International Documentary
Association website – and within a few days the director sent it to me
from Poland. What a great reality the web can be – and I thank Pawel for
sending it to me so quickly so I don’t have to lose my passion for such
an interesting sounding film.
Has there ever been a philosopher’s paradise? I like to think that
philosophers keep their distance from each other so they have room to
create their own paradises. I know that while I was at a giant
university with two dozen philosophers I certainly did not feel like it
was a paradise – I thought that the students and even the professors
were minimally interested in anything but their jobs and careers.
Plato’s Republic also was not a paradise.
Maybe I should learn more about “universalism”?

For more info on the film - http://www.directing.com/index.html

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