YouTube has made millions of people filmmakers in their own right. From the imaginative to mundane and the surreal, all you need to create a video for people around the world to see is a simple idea and a webcam. So it’s perhaps inevitable that a coordinated project to see what life is like around the world on a particular day would be made. Up to now, there have been synchronised – usually musical – contributions, but never on the scale of Life in a Day.
This is a documentary on a grand scale. But where most films of the same ilk feature a voice-over, there is no such thing here – the various videos are left to speak for themselves. Moving chronologically throughout the day, we follow the stars of the show performing their waking up rituals, going to work, interacting with others and the world around them. Affecting stories about life and death – the effect that illnesses have on people and their families crops up time and again. There are also some disturbing images – a cow is slaughtered (shown rather graphically) and footage of the stampede that ensued at the Love Parade festival in Duisburg, Germany which resulted in the deaths of 21 people.
As far as nature is concerned, sunsets feature heavily, as do cloud formations, city skylines and mountain ranges – many of these images were captured by cameras that were sent into the most remote and poorer areas of the world, where YouTube is practically or actually non-existent. Questions were set for the DIY filmmakers upon which to base their videos. What do you love? What do you fear? What’s in your pocket? Many of the answers given are very random yet others are predictable (and some downright illegal).
With cinematic heavyweights Ridley and Tony Scott involved, this should have been a lot more coherent than it is. The questions posed to contributors really don’t mean a great deal, as the vast majority of the film has nothing to do with them. With the only common theme being on which day everything was shot, the result is a mish-mash of the dull, occasional beautiful scenery and the obligatory controversial themes. The vast amount of material amassed and edited is a commendable achievement, but with a little more thought this could have been a much more interesting proposition.
Life in a Day is a thought-provoking look at life in different cultures around the world, but it is too fractured to be considered a classic piece of ground-breaking filmmaking.