What The Bleep Do We Know!? has already been talked about. TIME Magazine called it a “sleeper hit.” Patricia F. Hare’s Consciousness Commentary highlighted it years ago. Several other notables have described it as “compelling” and “absorbing.” So I realized I had to see it.
Early in the film a divorced photographer, Amanda (Marlee Matlin), begins to see herself in double, actually triple, and we suddenly realize we’re in for a subatomic joyride reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
While Alice in Wonderland satirizes Victorian society, What the Bleep!?targets organized religion, God as wholly other, the anticipation of heaven and fear of hell, along with more issues bound to irritate some and delight others. The film’s dominant theme is about creating your own reality through focused intent and increased knowledge while jettisoning the old, allegedly oppressive ideas of providence and belief.
We hear a lot in the film about paradigms and, especially, enlarging existing paradigms. Yet ironically the familiar “old-and-fat is out, young-and-thin is in” bigotry runs throughout. This might be the film’s biggest flaw. Aside from that, What The Bleep!? provides a visually rich account of human neurology in relation to memory, thought, emotion, behavior and sexual arousal. Its complicated science is made simple with excellent commentary and above average graphics.
Some viewers might be offended by the use of coarse language. But I felt this was kept in balance and made the film convincing, especially when coming from a person like Matlin who obviously has her heart in the right place.
What the Bleep!? is a bit slow in places (I would have edited the wedding scenes) but on the whole Matlin and the supporting cast make this more than just another new physics, gee whiz documentary. As the film indicates, it’s not about agreeing with everything; it’s more about thinking.
And surely we need more of that.