Life in a Day is simple but wonderfully effective. YouTube asked for contributions to document the day of 24 July 2010. In response, YouTube received many thousands of hours of video, all presenting key, mundane, joyful, poignant, ordinary moments from that single day in their filmmaker’s life. The moments could be exceptional, such as the birth of a child, a marriage proposal or the witnessing of a death, but they could also be typical of everyday life, showing what moments in time can be like for people of all walks of life, in all parts of the world. Whether the person in the lens lives under a plank on a boat or drives an obscenely expensive supercar.
Kevin Macdonald is the director of a film that is entirely different from his latest well-known film, The Eagle, although his involvement as Executive Producer of Senna, a superb piece of editing and documentary filmmaking, makes Life in a Day less of a surprise.
This is a film to wash over you. It demands little beyond calculating what time of the day we might have reached. But, if you’re in the right frame of mind, which I was, you will be swept away by the fragments of lives that we are given access too. Moments to treasure include the father and son who wish good morning to the dead wife and mother each day, the cyclist riding his bike around the world and almost weeping when he encounters a fly that is the same size as the flies he left in Korea over 9 years before, the shoeshining child, the parachutist, the little boy dealing with his ill mother and a father who insists on filming her path to health as a ‘family project’, the man insisting life can be near enough normal in Kabul and the military wife calling her young husband in Afghanistan.
Some moments are painfully poignant – there are people facing situations that are so tough it’s difficult to imagine how hard it must be. Others make you laugh because nothing is as ludicrous as people. And there are more who go through life with a gun in their pocket. A Life in a Day is a day in a life of humanity, with all its warts and beauty spots. It makes you realise how lucky you are while also giving you a taste of the inevitable mortality of life. With the music of Harry Gregson-Williams providing the pulse, this day in the life contains all the ups and downs one would expect from a day. As the final contributor laments, she wanted something special to be able to say about her day. But it had been ordinary. Nevertheless it had been extraordinary. And that is the gift of this film. It may not be perfect but it requires nothing more of you than to sit back and marvel at us.
At the end of the day we all share similar dreams and we are united by the same fears.