As with all movies on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the film, but rather to document how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.
Humano was released in 2015—written and directed by Alan Stivelman, who also happens to be the main character of the documentary. Alan has a lot of questions, in fact, a whole notebook full of questions—ranging from the purpose of life, to why religion exists. So he travels to the Andean mountains seeking out a shaman he had met previously, to enlighten and open his mind to different worlds, dimensions, and alternative ways of thinking.
The documentary opens with Alan saying: There's only one way to uncover the mystery of life: by knowing who we are. I don't know who I am, where I'm from, where I'm going or who we once were, who we are, or who we'll be, if we become anything at all. Alan then examines pictures from his past, discovering that as he grew older, his smiles became less genuine, less sincere. Until the final photos reveal the facade of happiness, belying the midlife crisis burgeoning within; and it becomes more evident as his journey continues, that learning how to be human would play a central theme is his quest to live a more purposeful life.
At the onset of his spiritual journey, his guide asks him, What are you searching for? To which Alan responses, The reason for our existence. Why are we alive? His guide, Well that's a good question. But at the end of the day, words alone can't explain it. Instead, we would have to... if you want to find your answers, we'd have to go on a journey. Shortly after that, the shaman explains what Pachamama—which includes everything in the universe is, but notes they should instead be focusing on is Aipamama—or more specifically the Earth. The reason for this is, in order to understand the higher worlds, one must first understand the material world, the Earth—which in turn is an extension of our body. As a result, nature either helps us to evolve, or retrogress, and our purpose is defined from within that relation to nature. Regrettably, humanity appears to be regressing with the increasing pollution and damage to itself.
Alan proceeds to ask his guide a series of questions:
Alan: What's the purpose or function of man in relation to nature.
Guide: The evolution of all different beings on Earth.
Alan: What is the reason for our existence?
Guide: Existence is a way of combining light with matter.
Alan: Why are we here? Just by chance?
Guide: No, there are reasons.
From here, the film divulges into a plethora of other philosophical questions from his notebook. Why does fear exist? It only exists if we need it to exist. Once fear is defeated, you can see the beauty of nature. Why does religion exist? Everything is for us to understand, not to judge—judgement leads to dualism. Where did we come from? Well... this one turns out to be a bit complicated, as it involves aliens, spirits, and more. But as Alan would note, the question of our origin, although it at first seemed like the most important question in his notebook, wasn't so important after all. Rather the more important issue is to understand; to understand who we were, who we are, and who we will be. And who are we? We are humans.
Like life, this movie is hard to summarize. It is just something that has to be experienced, and words cannot do it justice. It is satiated with philosophical inquiries and alternative answers from a society which hasn't permeated Eastern or Western thinking; making their point of views and answers to life quite unique. And yet, despite the uniqueness, the film left me feeling a bit empty and without answers. A film indeed cannot replace a real spiritual journey, and therein is the difficulty.
Overall - 6
Meaning of Life Relevance - 5
Uniqueness – 7
Did you see the movie? Is so, what did you think? Can our purpose be put into words, or is it just something that has to be experienced? If you like the movie, help us by purchasing the movie on Amazon.