Life 2.0 Reviews
Life 2.0 was the best documentary I saw at The Sundance FIlm Festival 2010. This film evoked a wide spectrum of emotional responses from me. It was at times disturbing, weird, hilarious, unusual, sad, and beautiful, many times evoking two or more of these emotions at once-and it was always interesting. A film like this deserves to be recognized. It is unlike anything I've ever seen, and it opened me up to this crazy world of second lifers. There were three aspects in particular that stuck with me after walking out of the theater: The idea that I could not fully understand these people's addictions therefore making their desire to play Second Life weird and alien to me, the beauty and whimsy with which the filmmaker portrays the second life world, and the tragedy of the characters' wasted lives.
The idea that I could not fully comprehend these people's addictions was not a new concept to me-I felt the same emotion when thinking about white racists when watching "Freedom Riders". I wondered what it was like to be an addicted member of Second Life. What would my motivations be for joining? Was my real life too harsh for me to deal with? Did the lines between my real and fake life blur after a while of playing? Where there purely business motivations for playing this game (People do make money off of the game)? All these questions do pertain to the characters in the film. Two characters escape from the responsibility of their marriages to have an adulterous "emotional" affair on Second Life that eventually evolves into a real world sexual affair. Another man plays to escape his bad childhood, consequently creating an alternate personality that becomes too real over the course of time. One lady makes it her job and profits greatly off of it, but a keen observer would conclude that her real life is not as good as it could be too. I can theorize about these things, but I will never know simply because I do not wish to find out. The only way to do that is play, and I have heard too much about addictions and know that they have a way of springing upon a person.
The filmmaking in this film is actually somewhat revolutionary. The filmmaker used some new technology to film inside the game, and the results are amazing. He can practically film anywhere within the game world that he wants. He even makes his own avatar so we can see him filming his character's avatars. It's trippy and hypnotic. The game footage is as real as the real world footage because I felt like the game footage was a representation of a person's dreams, a utopian world that is so close but yet so far away to its residents. It aches with longing and false hope. One of the aspects of this film that give this world an ethereal feeling is the score and soundtrack. It is intense and surreal, illustrating the beauty but underlying doom of the virtual world. When the camera was flying through the air above the various islands below, I felt exhilarated.
The whole film is steeped in tragedy. When the characters disengaged from the game and tried to face the real world, I felt their pain. Sometimes they don't feel the tragedy that consumes them because they are so blissfully enraptured in the Second Life world that their concepts of real and fake become one. They are truly "comfortably numb". To me the most spiritual and beautiful moment in the film is when the film's biggest Second Life addict decides to terminate his character and withdraw from the virtual world. He knows it's the right thing to do, but the thought also pains him. He feels like he's killing a living thing. He spends a twelve-hour stint on the computer leading up to his character's "death", using the time to talk with friends and party with other residents of Second Life. The scene is crafted in epic fashion, full of hope and sadness-sadness because I couldn't help but empathize with his despair. He finally deletes his character and walks out of his room and away from his computer and goes to see his fiancée, a hopeful re-entry to the real world. She soon dumps him and a month later he's back on the computer in Second Life, and he's never coming off.
I loved this film. It was able to dissect an area of the human psyche that many films have a hard time doing. It was able to find the perfect examples within the perfect context. It shows the longing of people to be loved and have no despair, a universal want of all mankind. This film shows the perversion of this dream by illustrating the false hope given to some people by the game. It puts those people on a base level of striving for something more, something they can't touch if they're using the wrong tools. I appreciated that message immensely.
Look for this film, as I am strongly hoping that it will get a wide release sometime in the near future.
Somewhat sad and interesting at the same time.