The Nature of Existence - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Nature of Existence Reviews

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½ April 12, 2013
Although i enjoyed this documentary, which deals with the world's religions, during the initial viewing, but as time went by I forgot it even exists. if not for my movie lists I'd never even remind myself of it. I feel this is a pretty good watch but unfortunately there isn't anything stronger here which would stick with you for a longer time.
October 9, 2013
I had to turn this film off before it's end. The director interviewed to many people of ignorance. Try "Three Magic Words" for a much more sensible spiritual documentary.
February 7, 2013
One of the few documentaries that address spirituality with minimal bias, that meaning there is a little bias present. This piece of film really gives one a good sense of the many ways of believing around the globe. I highly recommend this film to everyone that wishes to acquire a broader thought process on what faith is and what it means throughout different cultures.
January 10, 2013
This really just makes me think how silly humans are.
½ December 13, 2012
A good topic; however, I can't get past the first 10 minutes. It is a male focused & male dominated film. In the first 10 minutes two women speak in comparison to at least 15 men. Not sure why Roger Nygard choose to film male leaders exclusively. Perhaps he can make a film about male privilege, among other privileges, and how greater awareness of these privileges (i.e. is he assuming only men are spiritual great thinkers?) contributes to problems in our society.
July 1, 2012
Serves as a nice collection of snippets, but never allows for enough development of the various ideas and systems it presents. It is essentially a mini-tour of the world with the underlying message being that people have different answers to the big questions.
May 20, 2012
A Little Deeper Than [i]Trekkies[/i]

One of the things which interested me about this was the reminder that, yes, every major religion has the embarrassing people. I cringed when there was the woman going on about how someone was having a Goddess circlet emergency so dire that only Fed-Ex could answer it, because I know that woman. (Not personally, but you know what I mean.) But then there were wrestlers and drag-racers for Jesus, the guy who believes that antagonizing people is the first step to converting them, because it gets them listening to you. (Hint--I tend to think it's the other way 'round, that you get people who used to agree with you to reconsider doing so.) I think that, if you interviewed enough people of a faith, you would find the embarrassing one no matter what faith that is. It's actually kind of a reassuring thought. It's one of the things which I think gives a certain solidarity to moderates, no matter how devout, of any religious faith.

Roger Nygard decided that he wanted the answers to a lot of questions, so he went off to ask them. To as many people as possible. Of all sorts of different beliefs, from Richard Dawkins to one of those crazies who preaches fundamentalist Christianity to mocking college students. (Who declares unironically that God is love, despite the hate-riddled dogma he preaches.) He mostly focuses on the religions which are major in the United States, then going to the countries where those religions have their origins. He doesn't go into much detail about much of any of them, spending a very few minutes each on a lot of people and a lot of issues. He travels to Rome, to India, to Oxford; he talks to scientists, ministers, and just sort of people, including his neighbour's seventh-grade daughter. (She's an atheist and kind of obnoxious about it.) The questions he asks are deep and serious, but the answers he receives aren't always.

This could have been a lot better. The film comes to no real conclusions, leaving you to wonder why he bothered making it at all. The movie started with Nygard's own doubts, but we don't ever really find out what he thought after his search. Did he agree with the seventh-grade girl who demanded of a mall Santa why African kids "get genocide for Christmas"? With the Jainists who wear masks to keep themselves from breathing in insects? The church in Texas determined to be a sanctuary for persecuted gays? The New Age people? Orson Scott Card, Mormon? Richard Dawkins, hard-core atheist? The radicals and moderates of a wide range of stances? And what does he think they have in common; what does he think is different about them? Is there a reason he asked Irvin Kirshner all those questions? I mean, Larry Niven and Julia Sweeney at least create art based on their own beliefs. Basically, this became a clip show of belief, drawing no conclusions and answering no questions, and given that he made it personal, it felt like a cheat.

Then again, if he [i]had[/i] answered those questions, would I like the movie better? After all, I've never much liked being preached to; it's one of the things I don't like about Richard Dawkins. If he let all those people talk just to throw out their opinions, I'm not sure I would have approved. I just needed something a little more coherent, I think, and this movie wasn't interested in coherency. I'm not sure what it was interested in, except maybe getting the widest possible range of people interviewed. The closest it got to judging anyone is a bit of snippiness at the thought that it would have cost him twenty thousand dollars to get a twenty-minute audience with the Pope. ("You know, for the orphans," apparently.) But hey, he says, the Vatican tour is free, and there are dead Popes on display, so that's something, right? I would have liked something more than what we got, though I'm not fussy about what, I'll admit. Just some reaction to what he sees.

Actually, when I was in college, we got a preacher who makes the annoying fundamentalist in this one (Jed Smock) look kindly and rational. Ours actually got busted by the campus police for harassment and may not have been allowed back since. If I remember the story correctly, it's because he was following some girl who was walking away, not one of the crowds gathering around to mock, yelling imprecations about her personal life because of how she was dressed. Turns out the cops weren't about to allow that one to happen. I suppose the mindset was that, if he could persuade one of [i]us[/i] to turn away from our liberal homosexual Satanic ways and follow Jesus, that was better than converting dozens of lesser targets. But he didn't convert anyone; the goal on campus was to figure out how many categories listed as Hellbound on his sign you fit into. And one of my friends checked a Bible out of the school library and read aloud from Song of Songs. Good times . . . .
½ August 2, 2011
Lots Of Great Questions. Too Many To Focus On Answers Even: ???
June 20, 2011
This was ammusing to watch. Lots of crazies out in the world.
March 16, 2011
Spiritual, Religious? Christian, or Jew, I believe whether you are a firm believer, or have doubt, this film is one you DEFINITELY want to see. I had a conversation/debate w/ my cousin here on FB last night which provoked me to delve deeper into this very incendiary, yet complex topic which you need to watch w/ an open mind and you will have walked away w/ a more enlightened, fascinating look at what ordinary people, professors and others have to say about Why we are MOST CERTAINLY is a MUST SEE!!! <3
March 13, 2011
Pero que jarto documental, un niņo de colegio lo hace mejor. Lo interesante es saber quien le financia esta porqueria a Roger Nygard. Hay muchos comentarios interesantes pero estan mostrados de forma tan aburrida que se vuelve una pesadilla. Tratar de tomar las preguntas fundamentales de nuestra existencia y confrontar las principales religiones y la ciencia requiere mucho cerebro y aqui pocas neuronas son las que hay.
½ March 6, 2011
I enjoyed this movie thoroughly. The wide range of interviewees keeps viewers attention. A brilliant 14 year old girl to orthodox leaders of many religions give their answers to the nature of existence!
March 4, 2011
I agree the production has a little bit of ADD but as a person who questions the issues presented in this piece personally all the time it might not be a bad way to run through it. Made me think a lot.
January 10, 2011
This is a great film. It effortlessly walks a tightrope between fun entertainment, and truly profound questions.
January 3, 2011
The Nature of Existence is great documentary film-making. It is exhaustive in its scope, presented in a very objective manner and leaves the viewer wanting more.

Mr. Nygard does not delve into each philosophy in great detail as he is constrained by the length of a feature film. He does, however, give enough depth that you can begin to understand the basis of the religions he covers. His interviews give a very personal and individual viewpoint that really set a sort of indelible imprint which you take
away with you and are likely to think of days after.

At no time does he minimize or ridicule these belief systems, and with at least a couple that would be very easy to do. You get the sense he is on a journey and is genuinely interested in hearing what people have to say. Most importantly, the Nature of Existence brings to light certain commonalities of religions, showing that if people would
actually take a little time to learn and understand what their fellow neighbors on this planet believe there might be more tolerance of each other.
½ December 22, 2010
A disappointingly banal and seemingly pointless exploration of the subject, made worse by the insufferable personality of the host.
½ June 28, 2010
In Nygard's attempt to present all points of view - and thereby vetting none - he waters down any reasonable debate about religion and the existence of god. How he found his "subject matter experts" is not at all clear. Some are clearly delusional while others are hateful; yet, Nygard finds it perfectly reasonable to give these individuals more screen time than Dawkins or Schermer? It's absurd. Also, Nygard's gimmick of presenting questions and then polling the usual suspects gets tiresome after the first 30 minutes. This movie is shallow and reaches no conclusion other than the obvious "can't we all get along" mumbo jumbo typically accompanied by those who engage in "interfaith dialogue". This movie is a mess. I should have gone to see Toy Story. At least these are "real" fictional characters.
June 20, 2010
The Nature of Existence is very moving and thought provoking film. I fell in love with it in the first couple of minutes. The narrator /director introduces himself and explained the 2 main reasons that he felt the need to make this film: the death of his father when he was thirteen & the questions that he's had since then. The other event that helped give birth to the making of this film were his thoughts & feelings during the devastation of September 11th. That was "...when we all had to face our mortality for about a week."
These were two events that I could relate to since I am 30, and lost my parents at a very young age.
I think we all have questions and issues that plague our life choices and these questions change and evolve as we grow and age. Many of the questions that we ask ourselves on a daily basis are in the film & answered by some of the most absurd people I've ever heard speak in my life such as Christian Wrestlers, new-age hippie commune dwellers , Christian Evangelists.
Juxtapose those answers with the likes of renowned scholars such as Richard Dawkins, a spiritual guru such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a writer/ comedian like Julia Sweeney , this film was a melting pot of enlightening, edgy & sharp comedy which seldom seen in good-hearted documentaries.
Why do we exist? Is there an afterlife? What is our purpose? Those are the questions asked in the film and everyone fancies themselves to have all of the answers. I don't know that anybody even has the answers, but one thing I decided after watching this film is that I agree with Julia Sweeney when she said that we get any closer to understanding by making them up.
June 19, 2010
Absolutely awful! Completely vacuous and shallow concerning the questions asked and a poorly made film to boot. It briefly presented the views of a few intelligent, insightful thinkers and then filled the vast majority of screen time with the inane ramblings of clearly delusional people. One of the worst films I've ever seen, dreadful.
June 6, 2010
I am SO excited for this documentary! A friend saw it at a film festival and she keeps raving about it. The trailer is hilarious and I can't wait to see it and finally be able to discuss the issues it sheds light on.
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