on 9 October 2011
We watched part of this in a film & philosophy class after discussing in what ways film can contribute or relate to philosophy. Is it pointless to try and tackle such complicated material in 80 minutes? I'd argue no: Examined Life works great as an introduction to philosophy and catalyst for further intellectual exploration.
I'd say that the film does a good job of presenting the subject in a dynamic and stimulating way, particularly to those who have no previous schooling - although you would benefit from an understanding of rudimentary philosophical terms and ideas. The music is great, the transition between philosophers is well executed, and the philosophers themselves have obviously been chosen for their passion and eloquence, making it a joy to listen to them even if you don't agree with what they're saying! The film really does achieve that balance of education and entertainment that should appeal to laymen and experts alike, and I strongly recommend viewing it with another person so that you're excited curiosity has an outlet once the credits roll.
I'll finish this review with a quote from Cornel West, undoubtedly the most riveting speaker of the bunch, who expresses what I hadn't heard expressed before, but which I can relate to entirely!:
"There's a certain pleasure of the life of the mind that cannot be denied. It's true that you might be socially isolated, because you're in the library, at home, so on, but you're intensely alive, in fact you're much more alive than the folks walking these streets in New York in crowds...if you read John Ruskin or Mark Twain, Herman Melville, you almost have to throw the book against the wall because you're so intensely alive you need to take a break!"
on 13 March 2014
This dvd is a video version of those illustrated paperbacks ' xxxxx for Beginners' series. As a previous reviewer observed 80 minutes is not going to deliver anything particularly earth shattering.
I have to admit that the documentary did cause me to consider 'philosophy' and I conclude that on balance it is a discipline which attracts non-combatants i.e. a lot of deep and meaningful, sometimes doomsday observations but with no answers to the issues addressed.
Is it worth a watch? Yes, but do go on to read a range of philosophical texts starting with Greek and Chinese writings in order to get a feel for how the discipline has or has not developed!