Celebrating the End of Time

| 4/28/2014 12:14:00 PM

end of time mettler

Fascinating associations abound in Peter Mettler’s documentary about how we perceive time.

Ever since it's become aware of it, humanity has been trying to figure out how to understand the concept of time. But for what purpose? Consider these three complaints related to time: 1) There’s not enough of it; 2) It moves too slowly; 3) We’ve yet to figure out how to repeat it or fast-forward our lives through it. The common denominator to these complaints reveals an ever-present and unfortunate characteristic of humanity—the desire to control.

This thought and many others came to mind as I recently watched The End of Time by Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler. In this visually-stunning and remarkably thought-provoking documentary, Mettler digs deep into the ancient question “what is time?” and makes some surprising observations and associations along the way.

Throughout the film, Mettler deftly demonstrates that answering that age-old question involves much more than proving Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity; it means asking hard questions about our collective existence and the purpose we ascribe to our individual lives. Above all, Mettler challenges the viewer in myriad ways to take a step back, slow down, and ask themselves what’s more important: that we control time or learn to ignore it?

Mettler illustrates that pointed question by profiling individuals and communities dealing with specific characteristics of time. There’s Jack Thompson, who, for 30 years, lived a timeless existence in the shadow of a Hawaiian volcano, fully aware that one day lava would consume his home. His decision to stay while every one of his neighbors left was borne out of a deep desire to disconnect from the mile-a-minute lifestyle he saw in the modern world. The irony wasn’t lost on him that the Earth’s snail-like process of making new islands would eventually push him back into the fast-paced civilization he had hoped to escape. 

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