“Filmed by you,” trumpet the ads for Life in a Day, and maybe it was. Responding to a call for submissions on YouTube (which co-financed), 80,000 amateur videographers submitted some 4,500 hours of material, all of it shot on July 24, 2010 (local time, presumably—this is an international endeavor), from which director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) has fashioned a rapid-fire montage depicting the planet in all its varied glory, plus a little misery for balance. Think of it as a 24-hour snapshot.
On one hand, it’s hard not to respond on some level to the sheer we-are-the-world scope of the project, which does succeed, via associative editing, in creating a vivid sense that we’re all in this together. On the other hand, however, we’re basically talking about a compilation of humanity’s home movies, with an emphasis on the resolutely ordinary. Simply pulling up hundreds of YouTube videos at random and watching a few seconds of each would provide much the same experience, although you wouldn’t get specific “waking up” or “traveling to work” segments. Almost any random two minutes of the film would serve just fine as an airline’s generic “welcome aboard” imagery.