Before Ganix Naston’s documentary feature Eyewar is over, your mind and eyes will be bombarded with historical information connecting Buddhism with war with video games with silk worms and cybernetics. As a voiceover tosses context and facts at your ears, stock and found footage flashes on the screen to connect everything with a visual element. It’s a daunting, sometimes exhausting experience. One that arguably could require multiple viewings for those that are inclined.
Fascinating, but challenging, it’s the type of documentary where you wish it came with a transcript. As we watch tons of stock and found footage patched together to illustrate the voiceover’s information and points, it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed. It’s not often I request a study guide for a documentary; I think I grasped the larger themes and connections, but I often felt like I was back in history class, and should be taking copious notes, lest I fail the test.
But maybe that mental exhaustion, and potential numbness, is important. As the information comes at you, connecting video games with war and stock exchanges and money and Chile, you become more susceptible to accepting them. It certainly sounds convincing enough, though in practice the film is an act of historical cut-up; if we place enough words and images next to each other, won’t our mind connect them anyway, and wouldn’t a tired brain makes those connections even easier? Watching this film is what I imagine brainwashing could feel like.
But I enjoyed the film, whether or not I agreed or even bought each connection made. The ideas expressed were interesting enough, and the film is certainly a cram session of information. If you pay enough attention, or come in with enough foreknowledge, perhaps you’d be prepared to call “bullshit” on some of these ideas. Or absolutely agree. I think the importance of this film will ebb and flow depending on who is watching. I don’t think I’m an idiot, but I was overwhelmed from time to time.
It’s somewhat an experimental documentary, and one that can be a challenging experience for an audience. Unlike many docs that make sense of footage to create a narrative, this is a narrative that pieces together all the footage after the fact to illustrate its points. Thus it doesn’t indulge in the traditionally, though often naive, expectation for objectivity. The ideas are the subjects, and their connections are completely in the control of the filmmakers. If they don’t make the leaps between ideas, would we? Maybe not, but that’s why this film is so much fun.
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