Documentary Short Film Review “Sober Minds”




First, the Recap:

The world at large. It is the daily grind, the hustle and bustle of work, family, financial obligations, plus the ever-present spectre of media in all its forms, digital or print, visual or aural. Effectively, our lives are completely immersed in attention-grabbing mediums, when all around us resides a different, more vibrant world we so often let pass us by–the world of nature and the creatures that reside within it. From that perspective, and the wake-up call it represents to what’s truly worth investing time to take in and appreciate, professional Irish photographer Paul Hughes has now dedicated his life and artistry to illustrate the straightforward and uncomplicated existence of Dublin’s wildlife through pictures depicting lives unfolding.

It’s the dichotomy of human vs. animal as Hughes traverses all over the city and surrounding areas documenting through images the very fact that while we tend to try and make something complicated, intricate, or rational out of our words and actions in order to serve not always honest intent, there is the exact opposite found in the natural world where no true feigning, posturing, duplicity, or hypocrisy exists.  Rather, it is simply being what you are and living according to it that plays out, whether it’s the pure joy of little ducklings or the heartbreak of watching as, once their mother is away, the predators move to snatch away as many of them as they can. Yet, it’s not cruelty or hatred driving what’s occurring–it’s basic instinct and survival.

Next, my Mind:

Writer/director/producer Charlo Johnson puts his grounded, well-established filmmaking skills to further great use with this 17-minute documentary short that takes an autobiographical journey into the life and through the eyes of famous wildlife photographer Paul Hughes.  The well thought out utilization of Hughes as not just the subject of the film, but also as the narrator, allows for a smooth flow between the visuals being presented and the relationship to his life he’s speaking of. It’s a very impacting state of being Hughes engages the viewer with, because it’s not the far-flung jungles of South America, the high mountains of Nepal, or the dry plains of Africa he’s taking us to, but instead right into our own back yards, literally or figuratively as it may be, in showcasing the amazing natural drama taking place right under our noses.

What strikes hardest is the sheer fact of Hughes’ points and anecdotes about the differences between how we as people view our world and make it so convoluted with stuff and, honestly, absurd notions about what it is to just be, while in the meantime, observation of the animal world takes us to that place of such overt simplicity, from seeing the beauty of parenthood amongst foxes, but then we turn and hunt them down, or the plight of a lost cygnet stuck in a crevice until it finally gets itself released only to meet it’s fate, or the comparison of what we see as so deeply affecting in the predator/prey interaction, yet Hughes states he’s actually seen worse in a butcher shop. It’s this wondrous thing to totally value, admire, and respect the wildlife right there in front of us, in our towns, cities, parks, lakes, rivers, to an extent that it also shines a revealing light upon us a people as well.

In total, “Sober Minds”, this reviewer hopes, will have the intended exposure and impact in its message that it deserves, as in this world where we’re so veraciously caught up in having our faces and attention spans planted in cell phones, social media, and computer screens, perhaps it’s high time we take a pause, take inventory of who we really are in heart, mind, and soul, be that person, and then take the time to see the beauty that surrounds us each and every day with new focus.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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