Despite my general ignorance about quantum physics, it isn’t difficult to sense the hot air emanating from What the Bleep Do We Know?, a documentary-fiction hybrid that, according to its boastful production notes, “demands a freedom of view and greatness of thought so far unknown, indeed, not even dreamed of since Copernicus.” Um, if you believe that hype, I’ve got some prime Florida swampland to sell you. Directed by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, and Mark Vicente, the film is an initially intriguing—and then gradually more outlandish—examination of quantum physics (“the physics of possibilities”), the theoretical brand of science that supposedly helps us understand life’s most fundamental question: what is reality? Unfortunately, the film’s answer isn’t half as interesting as those posited by The Matrix, Fight Club, or Waking Life. A collection of talking-head physicists, philosophers, religious scholars, and mystics (all of whom are deliberately unidentified until the end credits to obscure their dubious authority) casually toss about terms like “epistemic” and “gifts of intentionality” in arguing that reality—rather than being an external force—is something we shape internally, thus meaning that what’s happening within us determines what happens around us. The ensuing, rambling discussion of quantum physics’ impact on notions of love, addiction, and Jesus is clumsily interspersed with scenes involving a fictional photographer named Amanda (Marlee Matlin) who, still smarting over her husband’s infidelity, embarks on a journey of self-discovery by learning to transcend humanity’s current perception of reality. Engaging theories are sporadically contemplated (such as the idea that an object can exist in two places at the same time), yet by the film’s conclusion, it’s clear that the real modus operandi of these “experts” is promoting a new-agey version of spiritual enlightenment intended to replace traditional monotheism. Society’s “superstitious, backwater concept of God” is the filmmakers’ ultimate target, since it interferes with their belief that everyone is God and that all of us are “co-creating our future.” If people are truly able to construct their own destinies, then I can only hope that What the Bleep, with its hokey and derivative CGI, John Tesh-influenced score, and screeching electronic sound effects, will beget a future devoid of these filmmakers’ creepily cultish work.
- William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente
- William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Matthew Hoffman
- Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, Barry Newman, Robert Bailey Jr., John Ross Bowei, David Albert, Amit Goswami, John Hagelin, Ramtha, Jeffrey Satinover
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