During the Transylvanian International Film Festival, my friend texted me each morning to let me know his schedule for the day, meaning the movies he would watch. The last day of the festival he sent me a list of the movies he was going to watch, although he knew I was quite busy that day. The list, as he wrote it, was: “-11 Minutes (100% worth it), -The Waiting Room, -Under the Sun (North Korea), Human (1000000% worth it), -Ville-Marie, -Belgica (100% worth it). The truth is, I wanted to watch Yann Arthus-Bertran’s Human for a long time, but didn’t have time, so I just saved it on my watch list. Although I was busy that day, I didn’t want to be behind with what the movie had to show.
I entered the cinema without any other expectations than to hear stories from different humans, that would help me learn something, or perhaps understand something I didn’t. Or confirm something I knew. In each case, I knew the three hours journey would be worthy.
Human is a journey around the world. It is a lesson on humanity and it brings the viewers face to face to other humans. From the movie we find out about problems of the world, like the draught from Indian villages, where people don’t have running water. At the same time, we find out that in New Delhi some twin towers will be built, with swimming pools at each floor. Generally, I felt Human was a story about paradoxes. It gathers stories of people from around the world, and in at least one story, or a part of it, any human being could recognize himself. A refugee from Afghanistan who was living in France, after taking refuge in several countries, tells us he just wants to live. A woman from a Papua New Guinean village said she was glad that, thanks to the movie, people were going to hear about the place where she comes from. An Italian woman said she wouldn’t have preferred to be a man. You’d ask yourself “who things of such things?” Well even I did, and not once. The Italian woman continued by saying men have an easy life. But, ironically, that was exactly the reason why she wouldn’t like to be a man. She said being a woman and accomplishing certain things gives her a sense of fulfilment. My favorite character was one man who said he’s been together with his wife for thirteen years and that he loves her very much. Aren’t we all suckers for happy endings? There were several sad or shocking life stories in the movie too, but I was often uplifted by the strength of some characters, who overcame their problems and decided to love life, and I was impressed by what happiness meant to people – for one woman happiness was picking the beans and the corn from her garden each morning.
Halfway through the movie I was hoping all spectators would learn something about the world and about what humanity is. By this I mean, in the first place, I hope the one hundred and something people from the cinema became or considered becoming less superficial, less judging, a little more aware of what’s going on in the world, and more willing to live in harmony with themselves and with the world around them. I understood (or re-understood) that it is not what we materially own that makes us rich, but what we have in our minds and hearts. I’ve seen some really brave people in the film, brave to live life and keep their heads up. The film is filled with striking stories, some about simple people enjoying life, and some about people who had difficulties but who managed to find their ways in life and who try to take the best from it. We learn from a girl who ran away from home when she was twelve because she was being abused that there is no point living in the past. She said we have to always keep our heads up. The director of the movie, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, also wrote on the website of the movie that “It’s too late to be a pessimist. Taking action builds happiness!”
Besides the impressive stories the movie consists of, the film is a visual delight. It shows aerial images of spectacular landscapes and of people living their lives, letting the audience make sense of the people’s habits as seen from a wide angle.
In the end Human, more than anything, taught me to think about my life in relation to other people’s lives. No life is ordinary. I remembered Bob Marley’s quote: “Love the life you live. Live the life you love”. Doesn’t it make sense? Although life cannot be staged, we should grasp on the things that make us happy. The diversity and the strength of the characters from Human are somehow hunting. They teach us not only to celebrate life, but also let others live. I’m glad I indirectly got the chance to meet those characters. As a woman from Japan said in the movie, “In a lifetime, the number of encounters is limited. Each of them is precious.”