HotDocs review: David wants to fly [2010, David Sieveking]

Toronto – I hate people who require spoon-feeding. So when after 15 minutes of interesting questions someone in the audience asks in a sentence too long to finish in one breath “what is the theme and the moral admonishment of the film”, I got up and left immediately. These are the same people who submits to transcendental meditation (TM, which incidentally would suck all logic out of the universe to trademark… because that’s like asking Batman to adorn/identify himself by wearing a smaller batman on his head). And TM, we are told in this film, was invented by a now deceased charlatan guru, is currently championed by David Lynch and other celebrities, owns and operates companies that sell drugs/vitamins, builds temples of invincibility and peace that houses no one while millions sleep in the sewers, and cannot help you find your inner self if your inner self hasn’t already found itself.

Basically, film school student David Sieveking had problems. He set out to learn about TM, which his idol Lynch said helped him become a better filmmaker. Upon acquiring the necessary tuition – 6 fresh fruits, 1 yellow flower, 1 white candle, and EU$2,308, he was given his person mantra and told to repeat it while meditating. Because his life arguably deteriorated, the disgruntled student started to explore the inner workings of TM instead, and found the story of the corporation to be full of holes, but their pockets full of cash. Slogans runs like “We will build City of Tranquility with 8,000 yogi fliers praying for world peace. You can’t ever visit them otherwise they will be polluted by the modern world”. Sieveking traces meditation all the way back to the Himalayan temple where the guru came from, and learned the truth about the guru and his own inner peace at last.

I do feel bad for David Lynch. His namesake interviewed him systematically, baiting for answers with questions. It was clear that Sieveking began the film with the expressed purpose of exposing TM. The scenes between David and Marie was quite obviously scripted, and the entire film looks like a satire with occasional pokes at Lynch. But I do believe the authenticity of the footage and what they portrayed. The interviews with past TM members around the world put into perspective the breadth of the population a movement like this can prey on. The most hilarious moment came when the Raja of Germany broke ground for the Tower of Invincibility at a WWII site in Berlin. The crowd reaction was golden.  Overall as an investigative piece the film was informative enough. But the antics were a little overdone, and detracts from the real message of the film.

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Posted on by Gary in Everything, Hot Docs, Reviews

10 Responses to HotDocs review: David wants to fly [2010, David Sieveking]

  1. Dowling Woods

    It’s a good chance that if this guy went in with a hatchet that the film is a sort of hatchet job. Don’t know, since there are so many movies, so little time. In any case, there is nothing on the planet that can’t be smeared, slimed or otherwise trashed. That’s why we have Clorox bleach, to do cleanup later. But just because there’s a film doesn’t mean that it’s factual. I’m glad there’s no video-capable people mad at me, since there could be many different versions of that movie. In any case, zillions of people are really happy with TM, and it may not matter to them that one person got off on the wrong foot and decided to make a stink about it. To bad for him really, since… It’s just a simple thing that works really well, typically.

  2. Gary

    Sure. I agree that nothing exists that cannot be twisted. And I definitely have no problems with “things that work well”. But if there is a tangible and somewhat hidden hierarchical structure looming, it invites questions. If gazillions of people are truly content with their own happiness but overlook this hierarchy, that’s fine with me.

  3. Frank Booth

    i don’t know – the film seemed pretty weak and disingenuous to me – i am sure that the TM organization, like any organization, has probably made its share of mistakes (even if the TM meditation itself totally rocks)

    and so, on one hand, it seems that you’ve got a smarmy wanna-be filmmaker who starts out with a clearly biased agenda to “punk” David Lynch

    and on the other hand, you’ve got many hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies performed over the last 40 years, from top research institutions around the world, published in highly regarded medical journals – and you also have famous people like David Lynch, Hugh Jackman, Howard Stern, Mehmet Oz, Moby, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Donovan, Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, Jerry Seinfeld, The Alkaline Trio, Laura Dern, Mike Love, Clint Eastwood and Stephen Collins (among many others) who enjoy TM so much that they feel to publicly advocate for it

    you also have current grants and research being done through the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the National Heart and Lung Association, Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School and the Veterans Administration

    but the smug flippa

  4. Frank Booth

    i don’t know – the film seemed pretty weak and disingenuous to me – i am sure that the TM organization, like any organization, has probably made its share of mistakes (even if the TM meditation itself totally rocks)

    and so, on one hand, it seems that you’ve got a smarmy wanna-be filmmaker who starts out with a clearly biased agenda to “punk” David Lynch

    and on the other hand, you’ve got many hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies performed over the last 40 years, from top research institutions around the world, published in highly regarded medical journals – and you also have famous people like David Lynch, Hugh Jackman, Howard Stern, Mehmet Oz, Moby, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Donovan, Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, Jerry Seinfeld, The Alkaline Trio, Laura Dern, Mike Love, Clint Eastwood and Stephen Collins (among many others) who enjoy TM so much that they feel to publicly advocate for it

    you also have current grants and research being done through the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the National Heart and Lung Association, Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School and the Veterans Administration

    but the smug flippant cheap shot seems to always be an easy one to take (and to review/promote)

  5. Jason Cangialosi

    Its interesting that the film could possibly be a scripted cheap shot. In the end though, it doesn’t seem that Sieveking is devoid of a message in the film. He in essence transcends David Lynch, and thus transcends Idolatry by going to the source of TM and beyond it. I published a review of it here: <a href="http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6241186/david_wants_to_fly_a_transcendental.html?cat=40&quot; "David Wants to Fly"

  6. Jason Cangialosi

    Sorry that attempt at html was all jacked, here is the article link:
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6241186/david_wants_to_fly_a_transcendental.html?cat=40

  7. Robert Soran-Schwartz

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    Had the chance to see it today. It demonstrates what it was intended to demonstrate: Both directors, David Lynch and David Sieveking started with very similar ideologic stiffness, but different views. And they finished this movie(ng) episode exactly as and where they started. And still – in my humble opinion – there is maybe no “winner”, but there is a loser: his name is David Sieveking and the real victim is his movie. And I suspect that the greater danger to our civilization isn’t TM, but the well disguised intellectual fanatism (or call it just “obsession”) of the likes of Savid Sieveking …

  8. Herman

    Saw the film twice : One thing is clear to me : Had Maharishi MY been a real Brahman i would never had learned to meditate, in this case TM. I have had great benefits by practicing it for a couple of years. The TM movement and its financial politics are (very) doubtful indeed. Leaf it and go your own way.
    To practice TM without all the hope and promises, JUST TO RELAX it is still OK to me.
    Finally i am grateful to Maharishi but left “his school” on time. .. Jai Guru Dev

  9. Herman

    *PS. Once the Dutch TM national leader, Jack, asked Maharishi why he always came up with new impossible sounding ideas ? Maharishi said : “You need to throw as many stones into a fruit-tree to get the fruits ! I am just the one that trows the stones in the hope the fruit will fall on earth.. for everybody.”

  10. Luke

    Meditation itself causes contentment. The fact that “millions” for TM practitioners close their eyes and try to still there mind for 40 minutes a day and feel more at peace is not a surprise, but that is not because of TMs instruction, but just because of the very act of closing your eyes and trying to still your mind. The scene where he goes to the neurologist and measures his brain activity using a common German word is a very good one. The practices you pay for, the hierarchy, all of the promises of invincibility, world peace, enlightenment, yogic flying and where all of the donated money went too is what is questionable about TM. I think David Sieveking addresses these shady aspects very well. I have seen many critical posts on this website concretely putting down David’s ideas and dismissing them as false, but none about going to the monastery where Maharishi started and debunking what David had experienced.

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