Director: Drew Heriot
Script: Drew Heriot (based on a concept by Vidjay Beerepoot)
Interviewees: Isabel Allende (author), Dr Maya Angelou (Poet Laureate), Dr Micheal Bernard Beckwith, Dave & Sandra Chesterman (parents of a dead child), Immaculee Ilibagiza (survivor of a Tutsi massacre)
Running time: 81 minutes
‘From the director of 'The Secret' comes this unparalleled and life-changing film about the astonishing power and intelligence of your heart’ or so reads the PR blurb on the press release that I was sent, along with the film itself, some time ago. Yes, this was another of those films that just turned up, unsolicited, on my doorstep, and then ignored by me until quite recently, until I finally decided to ‘give it a go’, as you do.
This documentary, by HeartWorks Entertainment, is a kind of mish mash of philosophy and cod-science based on the testaments of various different types of people from all over the world, who believe that the heart has an additional, almost mystical, power to help us to make the right decisions in life, but only if we bother to listen to it.
Beginning with a dramatization of a medieval Japanese warrior realising the error of his violent ways and going to see some kind of a shaman to give him direction, and then shifting forward to a modern-day piece of pseudo-scientific research involving the heart’s response to various images presented to the participants, in a study done by HeartMath.org, the documentary sets its stall out from the off, making rather reaching claims it then tries to back up with examples and opinions from experts and non-experts alike.
Sadly, to be a good documentary you really need to be able to show both sides of an argument or hypothesis, and it quickly becomes clear that, although the film isn’t really trying to sell any one particular product or service, it really wants to push its world view onto its audience and create as many ‘hearty’ converts as it can. It’s all a little ‘hippy – dippy’, but I have to say that it’s all put together very well and does make a reasonable case for following your own ‘aliveness’, that apparently the heart tunes into.
Some of the examples the film presents are quite harrowing, including the case of a survivor of a mass genocide in Rwanda, and a mother finding her dead daughter’s 'bucket list' and, rather amazingly, living it out vicariously via the recipient of her daughter’s organ donor heart!
It’s actually some of the talking heads interviews that come across as the most interesting and genuine parts of the documentary, and it’s hard not to be moved by some of the heart-felt pieces to camera.
However, much of the good work that’s done by such candid interviews, is partly undone by one of the person’s behind the documentary then lecturing us on finding the 'true power of the heart' and following your dreams, yada, yada, yada…
At times it feels like something made by a commune of Californian 'new-agers' who wanted to share their nice, but impractical philosophies with everyone, and hence decided to finance a film. But it’s actually a Dutch film - although not ‘double Dutch’ as some might say – so out goes that theory!
Much of the documentary is nicely put together with some great stock footage of mountains and beautiful scenery used throughout, and some decent reconstructions of past events, including the Tutsi massacre. In fact, at times, it’s all a little too glossy for its own good, a bit like the magazine that one of the contributor’s edits, namely a Dutch mag' called ‘Happinez’.
There’s a lot of stuff in this documentary that I hated, but, in between all the cries to ‘connect with your inner child’, and the inherent cheesiness within some of the more targeted soliloquies, do come some rather profound passages that will connect with the viewer on a much deeper level, even a cynical old hack like me.
Lace are distributing The Power of the Heart on DVD. There were no extras on the disc, but there is a book of the same name available, written by Baptist De Pape (real name?), who also features in the documentary.