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.

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Hot Docs, Reviews