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Detailed review below…
The new documentary People Vs. The State of Illusion begins with the following quote from Albert Einstein; “The significant issues we face cannot be resolved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” It nicely captures the essence of the case we’re about to see for the next eighty minutes. Change your mind and change will manifest itself.
Writer and producer Austin Vickers, himself an attorney, introduces the film and lets us know from the outset what he intends to do. Through re-enactments to present the facts, supported by expert witnesses to comment on the case, we will be learning what the state of illusion really is and why many of us may be among its victims.
The overall message of the documentary is that a personal shift in paradigm will alter your perception and change how things appear to you. And it does it in a language that incorporates all elements of our society, not just for those who naturally gravitate towards New Age writings or religion. In other words, this is not a how to for the spiritually inclined, this is for everyone told in a factual, matter-of-fact manner, which, of course, is what you would expect from a lawyer.
The re-enactment tells the story of Aaron Roberts, a man under a great deal of personal stress who hits rock bottom when his car runs a red light and causes a disastrous crash, resulting in a death. Aaron ends up in prison, and it is while behind bars that he begins to understand why he is there, what caused him to sink as low as he has, and what a change in outlook will do for the benefit of his future. It’s a literal interpretation of one trapped behind walls; walls created by yourself.
Stress, the documentary explains, is a powerful consequence of perception. The inner pain we often feel – a pain of our own creation caused not by outsiders but by the way we perceive those outsiders – is materialized on the outside. In the fictional case of Aaron, the inner stress that he feels – a failed marriage, overwhelming problems at work, time keeping – are all jumbled together, but instead of realizing that this stress is of his own creation he does what most of us do – he blames others. Rarely do we feel responsible for the problems we experience. Stress, we learn, causes damage in our health, financial and relationship problems. As explained by Vickers, stress will make more people die from suicides each year than all of our military conflicts combined.
So, what can be done to bring around change? The documentary poses the following question: What is the different perception you could have of the same facts, circumstances or person that would change your life for the better? Then, how would you act if that perception were true? “The hard part,” states one of the expert witnesses, Dr. Candace Pert, “Is knowing we create our own reality. We create our own successes, and once you get out of the blame game and take responsibility for your own life, that’s when the magic happens.”
The issues are well made and to the point. Director Scott Cervine illustrates much of what is said with the slick flair of a TV commercial, images bathed in golden hues and shot in slow motion, but it’s a dream-like style that works well given the subject.
People Vs. The State of Illusion is the kind of documentary you wished came with a transcript; it is full of facts from which all of us would benefit and could very well be responsible for bringing about a genuine change in our perceptions of what we think is reality and what is really of own creation, but the documentary is only the first step. The rest is up to us.
MPAA Rating: Unrated Length: 80 minutes