“God does not play dice with the universe."—Albert
So, do you want to see a movie about what may happen if he does?
A whole lot of science has flowed under the bridge since Einstein
expressed this complaint about quantum mechanics. See, he had faith
that the world would make sense in an elegant and deterministic
way, that the rules of the world stay the same from moment to moment.
He felt that some of the rules are just hidden, and we will figure
them out eventually. However, the current accepted opinion of science
indicates that he was wrong. According to Professor Stephen
Hawking, who does not appear in this film, “God does
play dice with the universe. All the evidence points to him being
an inveterate gambler, who throws the dice on every possible occasion.”
And, since God has such a gambling problem, what do we do about
the starving family back home? The far-reaching and varied implications
can be very interesting, if you are the type who likes to think
about such things. The people who made this film got very excited
and decided that they had to make a movie to explain their ideas
about those implications. According to Mark Vicente,
a cinematographer who got involved in the project from its early
stages, in taking questions after an advance screening of the film,
they started with the intention of doing a traditional documentary
for a venue like “Nova,” only using humor to keep the
piece bearable. They must have envisioned a sort of funny filmic
research paper about the ultimate in complicated topics, the effects
of the recent revelations of quantum mechanics on the meaning of
human reality. They were also most interested in the recent discoveries
concerning the biochemical nature of thought and the chemical basis
of behavior and habituation. Since the status of the observer is
a critical consideration in quantum mechanics, it would seem natural
to include some thoughts about how those dice would affect human
So, try to imagine the difficulty of making such a film! You would
find that fun would be inversely proportional to the amount of time
you spend on the details. It would get hard, very hard. That inverse
proportionality becomes logarithmic, at the very least! Anyway,
it must have dawned on them that they weren’t doing this for
a grade. In the end, they decided on something less rigorous, a
sort of filmic essay, instead of a filmic research paper.
This let them bring all sorts of things into the mix, from some
of the mentors whose books they have read to Ramtha,
the 35,000-year-old warrior who is channeled by an attractive blonde,
JZ Knight. On the Ramtha website, they say that
this film “features Ramtha and several of his selected teachers.”
Hmmm. That probably wouldn’t fly on “Nova.”
Then again, the filmmakers are now free to do some interesting
things like developing a bizarre and somewhat hackneyed narrative
to illustrate their points. They got Marlee Matlin
to bravely tackle the role of a woman whose mind is beset by the
growing understanding of these implications. They got three different
special effects companies to create visuals that are trippy and
funny. They throw in a few sexual subplots because no discussion
of human psychology would be complete without it, and sex certainly
gets the viewers’ attention.
Eventually their scientific filmic essay reaches the point of comparison
to religion. Religion, suffice it to say, does not fare well.
My guess is this film is going to be controversial. Since the film
has been in limited distribution up in Oregon and Washington, close
to Ramtha’s home base, there are already enough people to
gauge public reaction to it. I heartily recommend the message boards
on imdb.com for some insightful comments. I found that extreme reactions
lead to misconceptions and extreme judgments, both for and against
the film. People who hate the film claim that the acting and skill
of the handling of narrative are atrocious and that the special
effects are cheap and awful. They aren’t. Devotees think that
the acting is brilliant and the effects are mind-bending. They certainly
aren’t that either, but they are sufficient to get the point
across, and it is an interesting point.
You’ve got to have some sympathy for Ms. Matlin in taking
this role, and I doubt that Meryl Streep could
have been any more convincing, given the context of the script.
The rigorously scientific and the devoutly religious will find themselves
strange bedfellows in hating this film, and I think that fact alone
is enough to recommend that you see it. I’ll admit that the
film sometimes utters some conclusive and dogmatic statements that
are so obviously unsupported by the facts, it makes the hair on
the back of my neck stand on end. Religion does that sometimes,
and it still is permitted all manner of illogic. Since God is off
playing dice, I guess he doesn’t really have to justify his
actions. If this is a “cult film,” it may cause us to
doubt our assumed convictions (a good thing), but it never really
commands anything more radical than self-awareness and empowerment.
Still, if I were a beautiful, well-dressed, young professional woman,
I would trust neither faith in God nor quantum mechanics to keep
me safe while I slept on a park bench.
This film succeeds in conveying the magnitude of the wonders of
the intricate and enormously complex nature of the world, even if
they may get some of the fundamental reasoning completely wrong.
Sure, there are better science shows on “Nova,” but
I say that there is nothing inherently wrong with imaginative speculation.
Who knows? This film might even piss off some young geniuses to
the point that they go out and uncover some of those hidden rules,
proving Einstein right after all, getting God to leave Vegas and
go back to his family. Now, wouldn’t that make this film worthwhile?