Sunday, April 18, 2004

Movie Review: Mindwalk

United States, 1991
U.S. Release Date: 10/11/1991
Running Time: 1:50
Rated: PG (adult themes)
Cast: Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, John Heard, Ione Skye, Emmanuel Montes

Director: Bernt Capra
Producer: Adrianna AJ Cohen
Screenplay: Floyd Byars, Fritjof Capra, based on the book “The Turning Point” by Fritjof Capra
Music: Philip Glass
Studio: Paramount

If you want to obtain a copy of this “lost” or “hidden” picture, good luck. Mindwalk is currently only available on VHS format (not DVD) and is very hard to come by, due to its lack of popularity. However, if you do happen to come across a copy of Mindwalk, dust it off and give it a chance. Mindwalk is, just as its title claims, a walk of the mind, and it is truly one of the most thought-provoking and stimulating pictures ever made.

Mindwalk is a trip into the minds of three individuals: a politician, a poet, and a physicist. Jack Edwards (the politician, played by Sam Waterston) just recently came up short on his presidential campaign. After being defeated in the U.S. election, Jack contacts an old friend named Thomas (the poet, played by John Heard) to meet him in France for a daytrip. Jack hopes the trip will allow him to escape the monotony of politics and his D.C. lifestyle. Once Jack and Thomas reach the secluded and scenic medieval islet of Mont St. Michel, they meet Sonia (the physicist turned philosopher, played by Liv Ullman) and engage in a developing three-way conversation discussing everything from politics and philosophy, to sub-atomic physics and ecology.

Mindwalk is a classic example of what is called a “conversation film." The characters literally just walk around and talk with each other for the entire length of the film. With that being said, the film has to rely solely on its intelligent and enlightening discourse, and its dialogue is written well enough that the words do not come off as being over-the-head, dizzying, or pompous. The characters' discussion is abstract, and the rhetoric is intellectually intriguing--but not so much that you need to have a dictionary nearby.

Mindwalk delves into commentaries on global warming, o-zone depletion, deforestation, water pollution, and littering, and how they affect the world on a political and metaphysical level. The three characters discuss various generalities of Western thought and Descartes, human nature and intervention, the role of the individual, and the systems theory.

The acting is absolutely superlative throughout. The three main actors do an excellent job of portraying the characters’ convictions and opinions with heart and emotion. Liv Ullman is intelligent and illuminating. The bearded John Heard (better known as Mr. McAllister from Home Alone) does a wonderful job at playing his artistic, yet slightly comedic, role. Also, Sam Waterston fits the political stereotype to the tee, with his Stephanopoulos hairstyle and his Dukakis eyebrows.

Mindwalk is a quiet and reflective journey that allows your mind to literally walk—wandering within its uncharted caverns. As long as you can sit through a ton of political, social, and ecological jargon, you can appreciate the imagination and the sublime sense of remedying the status quo. While there may be no action whatsoever in this film, there will surely be some action associated with your neurons being stimulated by this absolute mind-tripping brain-bender of a film.

By the time the credits roll, it is easy to agree with Jack’s closing opinion of the entire conversation, “Even the parts I didn’t understand felt right.” This film may be nothing but profound psycho-babbling, but it's truly a cerebral hidden treasure of a film that may change the way you see the world. Without a doubt, Mindwalk is a walk worth taking. (***1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2004