Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 20th
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Quantum Bleep

Get ready for a movie unlike any other

A Japanese scientist decided to conduct an experiment. He wanted to understand the molecular structure of water and what affects it. Because water is the most receptive of the four elements, he suspected it may respond to nonphysical events. So he set up a series of studies, applied mental stimuli to the water and photographed it with a dark-field microscope.

The first picture from the microscope contained water from the Fujiwara Dam. It was nothing to write home about—just your garden-variety microscopic image of water. Another photograph showed the same water after it had received a blessing from a Buddhist monk. The image was entirely different. Much, much brighter, it looked like a sparkling snowflake. The scientist didn’t stop there. His next experiment involved distilled water. He taped words onto water bottles, left them to sit overnight and came across a similar discovery. His first photograph was just the essence of the distilled water. The second, from a bottle he’d labeled “Chi of Love,” appeared remarkably different from the original distilled water shot. Yet another, dubbed “Thank You” held a bright white crystalized design. The color and shape of the water bottle he’d titled “You make me sick, I will kill you?” A brownish-yellow asymmetrical spawn.

“If thoughts can do that to water,” muses one of the characters in What the Bleep Do We Know!?, where this scene unfolds, “imagine what our thoughts are doing to us.”

The aforementioned experiment is just one of the many mind-bendingly delicious treats What the Bleep serves. Directed by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente, this film is one part documentary, one part narrative tale of a woman’s (Marlee Matlin) gradual awakening to the world beyond normal, waking reality. But it’s all encompassing and positively engaging. This film playfully spoonfeeds its audience quantum physics and quantum uncertainty with one hand and boldly comments on how neurological processes and perceptual shifts can be engaged on the other. All this is played out in a sort of cosmic, cinematic ping-pong game between Matlin, the film’s protagonist—an angst-ridden Portland photographer searching for deeper meaning in life—and a wildly insightful posse of scientists who comment on the quantum soup in which we live. The two mediums—fiction and documentary—play off each other to winning ends. But a third element—vfx and special animation—only enhance this tale, which more than suggests that “everything is alive, and reality is changed by every thought.”

Bleep’s soulful head-scratching begins almost immediately. “What I thought was unreal, now, for me, seems to be more real than what I think to be real, which seems now to be more unreal,” comments a physicist-lecturer-writer Dr. Fred Alan Wolf in the film’s opening moments. This sort of circular talk—naysayers might even call it psychobabble—doesn’t let up.

Still, Bleep will fascinate: Our brain receives 400 billion bits of information each second, but we’re only aware of 2,000 of them. “Reality is happening in the brain all the time,” notes a scholar, “Yet we haven’t integrated it.”

And it will captivate: Are all realities existing simultaneously? Do all potentials exist side by side?

Bleep will stimulate: “Have you ever seen yourself through the eyes of who you’ve become and looked at yourself through the eyes of the ultimate observer?”

And it will pontificate: “We’ve been conditioned to believe that the external world is more real than the internal world … What’s happening within us, creates what’s happening outside of us.”

But Bleep will never bore: There is no “out there” out there, independent of what’s going on “in here.” (Although this gem deserves a mention: ”The only way I will ever be great to myself is not what I do to my body,” muses one scholar, “but what I do to my mind.”)

The film makes an impact by suggesting an infinite sea of possibility surrounds every human being. That all this can be handled with such intelligent panache—we’re not beaten over the head with this “heady” stuff—is a grand achievement. Bleep is one of the best films of the year. But really, what the bleep do I know? And by the time you’ve finished watching this film, you’ll be saying the exact same thing.


HHH1/2 (out of four)

With Marlee Matlin, Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, Stuart Hameroff, David Albert, Jeffrey Satinover, Andrew Newberg, Daniel Monti, Jospeph Dispenza, Candace Pert, Ramtha and Miceal Ledwith. Directed by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente.

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