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Mindwalk Reviews

Bernt Capra's MINDWALK breaks every rule of conventional commercial filmmaking. Like Louis Malle's MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, this fictionalized presentation of the primary ecological and holistic ideas expounded in renowned scientist, philosopher and futurist Fritjof Capra's The Turning Point depends on the virtually nonstop conversation engaged in by its central characters to hold audience interest for the better part of two hours. The result is a brilliant, often exhilarating motion picture. Radical physicist Sonia Hoffman (Liv Ullmann), conservative politician Jack Edwards (Sam Waterston) and expatriate poet Thomas Harriman (John Heard) have in common one fact. At the moment of their fateful meeting on the windswept grounds of Mont Saint Michel, the atmospheric, medieval French abbey, all three are in the process of rediscovering themselves and have reached a crucial turning point in their lives. Sonia is suffering from guilt pangs over the question of whether ethics are compatible with her academic work. Though proud of being part of the American political system, Jack has lately been concerned about his efforts to preserve his country's ecological well-being despite the almost overwhelmingly swift growth of its high technological systems. He wonders if America's race for the ultimate creature comforts is taking too much of a toll on such ecologically important regions as the rain forests of South America. Thomas, for his part, has become increasingly alienated by the recent conservative backlash and now lives in France. All three individuals are seeking truth and searching the innermost depths of their souls to determine, in effect, where do we go from here? Their mutual curiosity over one another's concepts of reality and preconceptions of human existence begin to blossom into thoughtful new perceptions of possible ways to slow down and even eventually halt the ecological turmoil currently spreading throughout the world around them. As their day of walking in and around Mont Saint Michel progresses, Sonia, Jack and Thomas's discussions of science, ecology and metaphysics deepen and become increasingly complex, yet clearly defined. By day's end, this trio of compassionate intellectuals has reached a number of surprising conclusions, the most important being what future course of action each intends to take. The realizations mount that "the major problems of our time are all interconnected and interdependent, facets of one single crisis, which is essentially a crisis of perception" and that "this crisis is part of a ... cultural shift from a mechanistic worldview to a holistic and ecological view; from a value system based on domination to one based on partnership." Such a fundamental shift is now crucial "if we are going to survive and build a sustainable future." Most people, and particularly our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated worldview, a perception of reality hopelessly inadequate for dealing with an overpopulated, globally interconnected world. Hence, a new vision must be found, explored and followed, namely a new and more realistic way of thinking, acting and interacting with our expanding technology and with our economic system and social institutions. Despite the extreme length of many of the individual conversations and despite the film's tendency toward repetition of some points, albeit important ones, MINDWALK seldom loses its essential momentum and interest. Nonetheless, attracting audiences to this film will provide its distributor with a genuine challenge, since it is totally devoid of physical action, sex, violence, foul language, dirty jokes or substance abuse. Clearly, MINDWALK's entire attraction lies in its articulation of our world's current needs and in its deeply fascinating philosophical dialogues, set against the awesome backdrop of Mont Saint Michel, which so hauntingly represents the old concepts, in contrast to the dynamic new ones expounded through the stimulating performances of Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston and John Heard.