Megan Cozens September 16 2018

The World As We Know It


These three films discuss fear of the unknown, what it takes for us to feel ‘safe’, and what it means for us humans to truly be at peace.  Each film contrasts one another, but essentially brings you to think about what it truly means to be human, will we ever be able to live in harmony with each other and with ourselves?

In a Few Years Everything Will Be Different (directed by Julie Engaas)

The narrator begins the film with, “I dream of…”  She illustrates her dreams in which all her irrational fears come to life; imagery and sound accompany these dreams so that we can experience it for ourselves.  Her fears range from loosing teeth to death, heights to environmental disasters, and the list goes on.

We are brought into her dream world with interesting imagery in this film; using what seems to be home film videos juxtaposed with overlaying crude drawings and collage. Although the visual effects are busy, the narrator’s soothing voice ties it all together in an almost ASMR experience.

Personally, there has never been a film that I relate to more.  Irrational thoughts, dreams and fears have been a monumental internal struggle my whole life.  To me, Julie Engaas has managed to portray fears and dreams at a time in the world where everything is forever changing at a speed it never has before.  It is an interesting moment to realize that other people worry about the same things you do, that these intimate ‘irrational’ thoughts are perhaps not that irrational at all.  

In a Few Years Everything Will Be Different 

Maelstroms (directed by Lana Z. Caplan)

In a world where defending borders and countries at war is a norm, military technology is the highest in the world.  Due to refugees and immigrants moving across the globe in numbers not seen since World War II, as well as a higher presence of criminals and terrorists, border security has seen an exponential increase in technology.  Gone are the days of dog patrols, security now means heat sensitive cameras and military bombing drone monitors.

The film starts off with imagery of frequencies and the sound of a helicopter, already positioning the viewer to think of warfare.  The film shows footage of soldiers defending borders, deserted land, a boat on water through a viewfinder, all juxtaposed with an interesting inception of frames.

This film, portraying the dehumanizing use of technology in military defense, almost fools you into thinking it is somewhat beautiful.  The use of imagery and sound draws us away from the brunt of the content, but as soon as we see soldiers opening fire, it brings us straight back to the severity of what we are watching.

Maelstroms forces us to see what it takes for a country to feel ‘safe’, is it necessary or is it inhumane? This is an eternal argument.


Utopia Now (directed by Samuel Bunn and Remo Rauscher)

This stop-frame animated film is upbeat and light-hearted, somewhat different to the previous two, but still highlights very important topics of modern human society.

We see different handmade scenes that are animated to visually depict what our three narrators are diligently discussing. We listen to two male voices; one optimistic, one cynical.  The optimistic voice talks of great idealistic ideas he has to fix modern society, where the cynical voice talks of how that would never work, then a soft female voice gives rational and sound explanations.

Through this film, we see how, as humans, we dream of Earth being a place where we can all get along, where capitalism is abolished and where everyone can live a good and healthy life, but we also become aware that, as a modern society, we have all the resources we need to make all of these hopes and dreams come true, but still Earth is no Utopia.

This colorful, upbeat film leaves us feeling quite perplexed, as if, ‘Wow, we could be great, we have what we need, so what is stopping us?’  Are we just wired to be a race that wants to divide and conquer?  Do we need hierarchy and power to survive? Or is it really just organizations controlling us and benefitting from destroying the Earth?

Utopia Now 

About the author

Megan, a young South African, recently left teaching English in South Korea and is now a travel enthusiast who is currently focusing on releasing an organic, vegan and zero-waste cosmetic brand.  She is interested in exploring environmental changes and how that influences humankind.  Her brand focuses on making as little waste as possible and tries to provide waste-free solutions for her customers.  Megan is also a hand-poke tattoo artist in her spare time.