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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Meaning And Heartfelt Documentary That Might Have Benefited From More Narrative Simplicity
I have no doubt that the independent documentary "The Human Experience" will be embraced by many as a heartfelt film experience. And why not? It is a sincere and well meaning journey that covers a number of interesting and relevant themes. The film's central message seems to be that we are all connected, no matter our condition or status in life, by the bond of simply...
Published on March 26, 2011 by K. Harris

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars uncut diamond in the rough
First off I want to say I love the premise of this film. Its about getting to the heart of the matter with being human/ the human experience .Makes my heart want to swell up and explode like a starving tick on a dog! ! What makes life meaningful for those with nothing.? No home or money or family or health. And this without all the religious balderdash or the Indian...
Published on April 4, 2012 by .fgd


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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Meaning And Heartfelt Documentary That Might Have Benefited From More Narrative Simplicity, March 26, 2011
This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
I have no doubt that the independent documentary "The Human Experience" will be embraced by many as a heartfelt film experience. And why not? It is a sincere and well meaning journey that covers a number of interesting and relevant themes. The film's central message seems to be that we are all connected, no matter our condition or status in life, by the bond of simply being human. It's a great thought, if a fairly broad one. And while individual sequences within the film can be quite involving and moving, the film does get weighed down with a lack of focus. This is what I call "everything but the kitchen sink" filmmaking. They are so eager to cover as much as possible in as many different ways as possible, the film starts to lose the power of simplicity. This is a journey of self discovery, a sociological examination of relationships, and an anthropological study of various cultures--just to name a few of the many narrative threads. It's an intriguing film that, if anything, is overstuffed with ideas it wants to convey.

At heart, I really admire the premise behind the film. Two brothers having experienced a difficult upbringing get into the mind set that they really want to experience life. They want to see what drives other people, to find hope where there seems like there would be none. The documentary chronicles three such experiences--living among the homeless in New York City, visiting abandoned children in a Peruvian hospital, and traveling to Africa to sit down amongst a leper colony. But more than these experiences, the film seems to be about how the people they meet influence the principle characters. Of course, any one of these segments would have emotionally complex moments--but within the style of filmmaking presented, I felt we barely scratched the surface of each stop. Why? Because instead of digging deep with actual content from the visits, the film also interjects various interview segments from a diverse group of commentators. These interruptions often make obvious points or espouse cliched platitudes and I'd have rather spent more time with the actual subjects of the film. More meat, less filler.

On the topic of filler, the film also serves as somewhat of a travelogue. You'll see the boys dancing, surfing, frolicking in a waterfall--and the scenery is lovely, but again it detracts from weightier material. And when words don't seem enough, the film is loaded with meaningful musical montages. It can be a bit much. I mean, sure it'll tug at your heartstrings to watch the Peruvian kids play while a melancholic score adds drama--but again, it isn't real content. And some of the musical interludes are over stock footage depicting random people. I suppose because we're all people and we're all connected? But it doesn't serve the narrative in the least. As if the three experiences aren't enough, though, the experts than dissect what it means to be a family in yet another plot tangent.

I liked "The Human Experience" and certainly recommend it. The brothers are likable and the film is uplifting and easy to watch. I just wished it had maintained a clearer focus. I would have lost the random montages and the expert interviews and really concentrated on the heart of the film. If the movie had spent all its time on the actual experiences, a stunning and unforgettable film might have emerged. As is, though, "The Human Experience" is a lovely, well-meaning film with its heart in the right place--but it didn't impact me in the way that I'd hoped. KGHarris, 3/11.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gift of Life Screams Out in "The Human Experience", April 14, 2012
This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
The award wining, independent documentary, "The Human Experience" by Clifford Azize, Jeffery Azize, Michael Campo, and Matthew Sanchez is a must see for the entire family. I had ordered a copy from Netflix on the basis of recommendation but with no knowledge about the film or its origins. I found it inspiring, fascinating, captivating, and rewarding. I plan to share this with my children and grandchildren as well as with a ministry I co-lead for those who are in-transition.

"The Human Experience" follows a group of young men (Azize brothers, Campo, and Sanchez) who meet at a half-way house in New York City and then travel around the world in search of answers to life's big questions - Why am I here? What is life? What is the meaning of it all? Their first foray takes them into the streets of NYC during the coldest week of the year to live with the homeless. They interview the homeless - "I am grateful, despite being homeless, for life."

Their next adventure takes them to Peru, as part of a surfing club focused on charitable acts, where they work with orphans (many abandoned by their parents) and disabled children. And finally, they travel to Africa to work with abandoned lepers in the forests of Ghana.

What is learned changes the young men forever. The human spirit, the appreciation for the gift of life, and the search for meaning are universal, regardless of circumstance. We are all connected, no matter our condition or status in life, by the bond of simply being human. This film also challenges the thought that some lives are not worth living (disabled and diseased) and that those who are aborted did not deserve the life that was given to them.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars uncut diamond in the rough, April 4, 2012
This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
First off I want to say I love the premise of this film. Its about getting to the heart of the matter with being human/ the human experience .Makes my heart want to swell up and explode like a starving tick on a dog! ! What makes life meaningful for those with nothing.? No home or money or family or health. And this without all the religious balderdash or the Indian incarnation. Something deeper comes out from the unfortunates they film. Somehow they all express they are part of incrementalyy evolving Man and there is a sense or awareness of a "God's plan" because somehow it's troubles that polish the soul but its a hidden, thankless task. Look at the movie stars with accolades , who do not have an iota of the substance , which some of the unfortunates have in this film.
Or is it all luck and steering clear of the wrong places to film ? Places where there is no culture like the projects in London , which are plain boorish compared to New York or India etc.

It is made by amateur film makers doing something fresh and explorative and so KIND. But it is hard to watch except a bit at a time because there are too many snippets of footage.At its worse it becomes like being stuck under strobe lights at a disco while its a relief to escape and stare at the moon. In fact watch it a bit at a time and keep returning to forage for gems because this film only needed to be edited by someone who understood its premise and was a real producer.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly amazing!, December 27, 2010
This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
The screening for this movie was held at my school this past year, and I have to say that it was absolutely phenomenal. The footage is so deep and real that it holds the potential to change the life of any viewer forever, as corny as that may sound. Seeing the good things that we often take advantage of and watching the horrors that happen around us that we are completely unaware of was shocking. The Human Experience is undoubtedly both a tear-jerker and an eye-opening experience. I would highly recommend that anyone and everyone should see this movie at one point in their lifetime. It will change your outlook on life dramatically, I guarantee it!
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We get what we give., April 26, 2011
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This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
I watched this movie without much idea what it was about. My initial interest was rooted in a shallow curiosity based on an indie band/ambient music favorite of mine (hammock) having 4 songs in the soundtrack. Beyond that I had no expectations other than it is a documentary and supposed to be uplifting. From the beginning I was hooked.

We meet two adult brothers who live in a "halfway house". There is never much detail as to why they live there but it doesn't matter. We watch them interact and it's obvious they are close, have each other, and are close with some others at the house. A family of sorts and this seems to have become pretty comfortable to them. Then they set out to see what is beyond that. To really be involved and not look at things on the surface as they pass by.

They live with the homeless on the streets of New York City and it doesn't appear as if they cheat even a little. They have decided if they are going to do this, they will do it right. Those who live on the streets offer them information to survive in the cold of winter. The older brother doesn't seem as sold on the idea of doing this as the younger as their initial outlooks could hardly be more opposite but they go through with it supporting each other. Some very insightful moments come from talking with the folks who actually live on the streets and won't be going back home after two weeks. I especially recall the comments made by a woman who makes a comparison of the homeless to lost dogs.

From there they move on to visit an orphanage in Peru. We watch as homeless children, many with quite severe birth defects undergo physical therapy, play, grow as a "family". This is especially touching simply by the fact that they are children but the film makers don't milk that fact or even try to make it especially romantic. All things are shown as they are and there are wonderful growth moments and insights.

Two more residents of the halfway house join in the journey as they travel to Ghana and come face to face with the devastated AIDS population and then people who are banished to a leper colony. Again, some devestating moments that are countered with hope and joy.

The film is interspersed with commentary by various people that offer some insight and hope, but often the deepest insight is in what is not said, though there are some very quoteable moments. Throughout it's apparent that the men in this film recieved as much if not more than what they were giving. There is a sense of humor throughout much of the film seen mostly in the interactions of the brothers and between the brothers and people they visit. When they finally head back to NYC you pretty much know what the final experience of the film is going to be but knowing doesn't detract from the impact.

I found it inspiring, caring, insightful, encouraging, and full of joy. I appreciated the fact that politics, left/right/or somewhere in between, played NO part of this film. It is simply about being human and treating others as if they are too. I fully intend to show this film to the small group of abuse/neglect teen age boys I work with. It does have a great soundtrack too, by the way. Hammock's 4 songs are great AND the added bonus of a couple of Innocence Mission songs. Although it gets a PG-13 rating, I'm surprised as it really doesn't seem more than PG material though I think the concepts may be a little too advanced for many children under 12. In those terms, apart from a few bits of language, the rating makes sense. I strongly encourage folks to see this film and decide for yourself if it's something you would want to share with others. I was surprised by the subtle but deep impact it made on me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss the message, February 11, 2012
This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
I recently watched this with my teenaged son. We were both so overwhelmed with the beauty and messages throughout. Those who perceive this movie as narcissistic or merely the Western view of the rest of the world, I believe, miss the whole point. The movie is called The Human Experience, right? These young men were taking their own human experiences (those of young men, from broken homes, lower socioeconomic status, abandoned in our "land of plenty") and connecting them with those of others in other parts of our world. And let me just add, that it certainly gave a much more genuine view of the world and human experiences than "Eat, Pray, Love" ever did. Oh my - was that blasphemous?

How many of us in our privileged existence open ourselves up to understanding not only about the "whats" in the world around us, but also the "whos"? These young men (and let's face it, sometimes we tend to give young guys a bad rap overall) stepped out on this path of discovery. It takes courage to do this. I don't care that some may have thought the camera angles were screwy (they weren't), the delivery was considered dull or inarticulate (it wasn't), or the commentators were supposedly serving up platters full of platitudes (they weren't). It made a positive impact. But that's just from my lens in which I view the world.

I recommend The Human Experience to anyone - whatever your human experience is, you will find something in those 90 minutes that has relevance to your life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just okay, October 22, 2013
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This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
This documentary was well put together, but I think I was expecting to see something else. It covered the lives of people who were less fortunate. I thought it would cover the spectrum of humanity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human Experience - POWERFUL, December 16, 2012
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This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
We showed this to Grade 10 students as part of a sleep out to benefit a homeless shelter. To see forty high schoolers not uttering a sound, completely mesmarized by the movie, was something to see. Their discussions after the viewing really brought out the best in them. THANK YOU!

Eileen Kelly
Director of Religious Formation
St Gregory the Great Church
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie!, March 3, 2011
This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
My teenage daughter and I first saw this movie at a screening. Now we own the dvd and have given it to friends and family. It is worth watching more than one time as there is much to be gained from viewing it. The first time we saw it we immediately loved it and appreciated the title. The movie is such a good reminder that we all do share our humanity and, in that, we are united. The movie is so well-made and the stories in it are so touching. The commentary is so interesting that it's nearly as good as the movie itself! Keep your eyes open for Grassroots Films because we can expect more quality workmanship from them in the future!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars College Student Responses, November 28, 2013
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Montana "Francis" (Rocky Mountains, Montana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Human Experience (DVD)
I teach Introduction to sociology community college level (about 30 students) and I used this movie-documentary to show in class and the students loved it! They were very touched by it (heart-felt, and caused them to think). They all wrote response papers after viewing with excellent reviews.
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The Human Experience
The Human Experience by Charles Kinnane (DVD - 2011)
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