388 of 594 people found the following review helpful
"No Intelligence Allowed"... in this documentary!
, July 16, 2008
This review is from: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (DVD)
I went to see this movie in theaters opening weekend. Fortunately, my boyfriend and I were the only people in the theaters, which allowed us to yell at the screen freely.
While watching the documentary, I did not know any of the shams behind it. I thought (at first) it was 100% legit, all the stories were true, the interviewed knew what movie they were interviewing for, and so on. Of course, I still watched it skeptically, as I do for any documentary, whether its this, Flock of Dodos, NOVA shows, or even Planet Earth, but still expecting honest documentary technique. Still, some of the stories and comments just felt "wrong" or "out of place". Later I found out the real reasons things felt "off" at ExpelledExposed, other reviews, Dawkins' site, and so on. I was totally repulsed.
Granted, there were points of the documentary I found amusing, such as when Ben was trying to find the Discovery Institute, and got lost, and so on, and I think artistically this documentary was well done and appeared cohesive. Factually and ethically however, its a mess!
I can't understand how people think the scene where Stein harasses Dawkins is funny or proves anything. Stein was asking leading questions to explicitly get Dawkins to come up with a POSSIBLE scenario in which a designer might be POSSIBLE. Please note, he did not ask Dawkins to come up with something TRUE or something Dawkins BELIEVES. He asked Dawkins for POSSIBILITY. So, Dawkins came up with the first probable solution, which he clearly didn't believe, but to answer the absurd question. Then, Stein takes what Dawkins says and rips it out of context! This was the point of the movie I almost walked out in anger, not necessarily at his point, or at ID, or whatever else supporters of this movie thing we get mad at, but at his horrific interviewing technique! No self-respecting documentary filmmaker, writer, or reporter should pull comments out of leading questions to support their point. Its low, and despicable. If they can't support their argument without resorting to such below-the-belt techniques, what does that say about their validity? However, I didn't leave because we spent a whole $10 on it, and bought Icees, too. After I saw the absurdity that followed, I almost wish I had.
Because... then came the Nazis. I think this topic has been covered pretty well by other reviewers, but I would like to point out another instance in this sequence that epitomizes the poor interviewing technique and low standards of this documentary. He is talking to a tour guide in a holocaust museum, pulling every bit of emotional weight into the situation. He then asks the tour guide "If you could say anything to Dr. *whatever the name was, who did horrible experiments*, what would you say to him?" and "Don't you think it odd that the real insane ones were the people doing the experiments?" In any other high quality documentary, these deeply personal and subjective questions would not have been asked of a neutral tour guide. He was trying to force her to take a side so that he could claim another ally and invoke a reactionary response among those in the audience sympathetic to his positions. Of all those interviewed, I give her the most credit. She was not expecting to be forced to take a side, or harassed, she was probably just expecting to walk the cameras through the museum and explain the history. However, she was able to remain neutral in face of such a celebrity and pressure, and did not allow them any opportunity to twist her words to their cause.
Additionally, the interviews on the evolutionary end were lacking. We only saw a few of the key faces in the scientific community, and only those which would create a polarized reaction, such as Dawkins and Scott. What about Micheal Ruse? Why did he only get a 1-minute clip? If you watch the special features on Flock of Dodos, where they have an hour long debate, it is obvious that this man needed more face time. But they didn't want that, did they? They'd rather have the "fundamentalist atheist" Dawkins as the sole figurehead of evolution, so they could make it a game of faith / no faith, religion / irreligion, rather than addressing the real issue -- Intelligent Design has no scientific backing.
Additionally, notice how the ID interviews are largely based on sob-stories and touchy-feely emotional aspects of the issue ("Oh, you lost your job, how HORRIBLE!!!"). In contrast, the interviews for the evolutionary side had everything to do with facts and figures, leaving little room for the audience to get-to-know and connect with the evolutionists "as people". The only exception to this is Dawkins, we get to know him as an atheist who lost his faith because of evolution... not something for the average American audience to sympathize with.
Lets look a briefly at the filming technique. I noticed a subtle lighting technique used in the interviews that lent a strong bias towards the ID side and away from the evolution side. Notice when Stein is interviewing the ID supporters, the location is relaxed (in a park, reclining in a comfy chair, in a cafe, etc). The lighting is soft, bright, and warm. Compare this to the evolution interviews with cold, harsh lighting, high contrast, and an uninviting setting such as a stark room, or the bookshelves and studies of Academia. While this may sound like nitpicking, lighting techniques and subtlety is the heart of artistic composition, and the key to controlling the emotions and minds of viewers.
Finally, it must be acknowledged that the documentary does not explain the pseudoscience behind ID in the first place, it merely cries discrimination. An average viewer would leave knowing no more of ID than the fact that its being "unjustly" shunned by the scientific community. The fact is, ID is not science. It is pure conjecture and speculation. The best thing ID proponents have going for them is a concept called "irreducible complexity" (read as: this looks like it was designed and we can't figure out how it works, so a designer did it), but did they discuss in-depth the implications of irreducible complexity, at the very least? NO! If they had, it would have become immediately obvious that we are no longer looking at science but pure conjecture masquerading under the name of "science" with no backing in experimentation and traditional scientific rigor. This goes against the narrow scope of what the producers of Expelled wanted, and thus, they don't go into what ID theory really is.
Only waste your money on this movie when it hits the "buy two get one free" bin at the used video store in the next few months, as it inevitably will, and only waste your time watching it for laughs.
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