Unity is an ambitious documentary that asks a simple question: “Why can’t we all just get along?” The film is written and directed by Shaun Monson and is a kind of sequel to his pro-veganism documentary, Earthlings. In Unity the message is supposed to be promoting harmony, but it is a tad muddled at times.
The film has five chapters and the cast features no less than 100 different voices, including famous actors, writers, musicians, sports people and more. The Australian contingent sees Geoffrey Rush, Isabel Lucas, Missy Higgins, Rose Byrne and Joel Edgerton come together. Others include Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, Joaquin Phoenix, Dr. Dre, David Copperfield, Tony Hawk and Marion Cotillard. The story works on the premise that a chorus of voices is greater than the individual parts.
The message is anti-war and against racism, sexism and speciesism. It also highlights the contradiction between human evolution and our acceptance of tribes and the destruction of nature. There is some beautiful footage taken using HD aerial photography as well as video captured on smartphones, and just about everything in between.
There are also some sobering statistics about war, animal slaughter and environmental degradation shown alongside graphic and horrifying images of animal cruelty. A video of a cow that knows it is about to die is absolutely heart-wrenching. These darker scenes are particularly haunting when coupled with the atmospheric soundtrack by Yuko Sonoda.
The biggest tragedy in Unity is that the message is a stream-of-conscious one, confused by some tenuous links. It means some of the points and philosophy will be lost on the more cynical viewers. But at its best, Unity shows a sumptuous collage of humanity and offers some real food for thought for us all.
Originally published on 29 July 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/unity
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