What The Bleep Do We Know!?

What The Bleep Do We Know!?


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Mention quantum physics outside the parameters of anorak wearing, dandruff bearing social circles and you'll be plagued with stumped facial expressions, tantamount to take a hike nerd!

What The Bleep Do We Know!?, in highly unconventional style, does its darndest to break down these embarrassments by bringing the incredibly complex world of unknown matter to the surface. A weird pastiche of documentary interspersed with a bizarre plot that dabbles in CGI to illustrate its point, the fim begins by posing light-hearted questions, such as, "What are thoughts made of?", and reassuring aphorisms as "Quantum physics puts reality in people's hands." Thank God for all that.

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I didn't understand quantum theory before I entered the cinema and sure as hell didn't when I left. But that's OK. What we have here is a film that challenges our perceptions and encourages us to ask bigger questions about ourselves, our beliefs and our place in the universe. Not a bad thing these days.

Using a vast array of distinguished academics, most of whom are experts in their field, we learn about the basics of quantum physics, the study of subatomic particles as opposed to normal particles which is probably much easier. Unlike mathematics, "Quantum physics is about possibilities only," asserts one expert.

If all this sounds awfully dry, well it's not. Writer/directors William Arntz and Betsy Chasse do a sterling job in jazzing it up with a narrative, based around Amanda, a deaf, divorced photographer, who, going about her daily humdrum existence, is introduced to a bizarre world of quantum possibility by a kid on a basketball court.

Exposed to hidden molecular and quantum worlds lying beneath her surface existence, Amanda opens up her senses to all sorts of perceptions and questions of reality, finding a brand new lease of life and a happiness her normal state of mind wouldn't allow. This is made fun by the directors' s use of animation to illustrate states of mind, among other things. Particularly funny is the part about love, sex and affection. Breaking down love rather clinically into "holographically imprinted chemicals," we see little scientifically minded CGI chemicals bobbing about, arbitrarily stating their no-holds-barred opinion on how emotionally unstable we humans are.

Other big topics, such as religion, are addressed, with arguments in favour of quantum physics as a powerful instrumental force in explaining the relationship between God and science, frequently aired. Naturally, these questions are never answered definitively, but that is the key. Quantum physics is about possibility, and possibility only, we are told. So next time some anorak argues the toss about the subject, it's reassuring to know that their answer probably contains as much speculative bullshit as yours.

What the Bleep Do We Know asks more questions than it answers, but as one of the many academics remarks, "It is those who are in the mystery that are really in the know."

The challenge is worth the watch.

Reviewed on: 20 May 2005
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What The Bleep Do We Know!? packshot
An unconventional half film/half documentary about the nature of quantum theory and how we perceive ourselves within the universe.
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Director: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse

Writer: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse

Starring: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, Barry Newman, Robert Bailey Jr, John Ross Bowie

Year: 2004

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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