Bigger Than Us (2021)
Directed by: Flore Vasseur | 97 minutes | documentary
Looking at the state of the modern world, there are plenty of reasons to get discouraged and give up. The climate is changing rapidly, global biodiversity is dwindling visibly, the mountains of plastic on land and in the sea are taking on uncontrollable proportions and a significant part of the world’s population still suffers from hunger, oppression or armed conflict.
‘Bigger Than Us’ is a crowdfunded documentary that aims to show how things can be done differently and tries to show that with behavioral change and a healthy dose of activism we can all make a difference. We meet eighteen-year-old Melati, who has been committed to reducing the excessive plastic pollution in Bali since she was twelve. In ‘Bigger Than Us’ she visits fellow activists who are trying to make the world a better place with other projects. The content of the programs varies. A regional newspaper against fake news, saving refugees in the Mediterranean from certain drowning, campaigning against gas drilling or setting up a school to offer underprivileged young people better opportunities for a beautiful and successful life: these are all inspiring initiatives with unique challenges and a unique focus and dynamics.
‘Bigger Than Us’ presents the various projects in the form of a frame story. You are watching several short films, as it were, which are tied together at the end by the somewhat perfunctory, simplistic and moralistic sounding message that ‘a better world really starts with yourself’. Not entirely untrue, but in reality it is not always as easy for us citizens of the world to change the course if politics and global big business do not intend to cooperate in creating a better, cleaner and fairer world. Moreover, the episodic, somewhat fragmented narrative form does not always work well. The moment the film drags you into a certain story, ‘Bigger Than Us’ sometimes jumps a little too quickly to the next story.
Cinematographically, ‘Bigger Than Us’ switches between grandiose (often filmed with the help of drones) and intimate images. In this way, the viewer not only becomes aware of the enormous magnitude of the world problems that are addressed, but also sees how the issues affect the lives of individuals in less fortunate countries. This makes ‘Bigger Than Us’ not only a film with its heart in the right place, but also an urgent plea for greater equality, environmental awareness and compassion.