Director Roger Nygard’s documentary, The Nature of Existence, asks people around the world questions that hit the heart of religion and philosophy. “Why do we exist?” “Is there a God?” “Does prayer work?” “What is sin?” The film consists of an unusually large body of interviews with writers, philosophers, priests, and scientists—and a liberal sprinkling of nut cases, like self-proclaimed spiritual guru Aha. We get luminaries like His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Pope Benedict XVI—the Pope, unfortunately, declined to be interviewed—and some colorful characters like Brother Jed Smock, a preacher who practices “Confrontational Christianity” on college campuses. Along with the man-on-the-street interviews, Nygard includes conversations with a surprising number of very well-known people, like sci-fi superstar Larry Niven.
The Nature of Existence is possibly the most even-handed documentary I have seen in a decade. It asks questions and fosters discussion: and there is no conclusion reached or proposed. Walking in with no preparation, I was expecting a scoffing and sarcastic piece like Religulous, but got instead of very thought-provoking and entertaining work. (Released 23-Jul-2010. Rated NR. 110 mins.)
Fast Movie Review