Call it “Rashomon in Miniature.” Like that Kurosawa classic of relative reality perspectives, Loren-Paul Caplin’s grimly ironic “History of the World in 8 Minutes” shows that nothing is as clear as it can sometimes seem to be. A Homeless Man (Thomas Hayes) and a Cop (Charles A. Burk) are tussling on a nameless street corner. Caplin intercuts this struggle with snippets of conversation between the various neighborhood people who witnessed the brawl. Each has a different perception of the event. One saw the cop attack the man. A second saw the man spit on the cop before the attack. Still a third recalls the cop being abusive towards the man, who then spit on the cop, who then tried to make his arrest and so on. As this debate occurs, the struggle between the two combatants resumes…and escalates until both are in mortal danger. They reach out to the civilians, who are so intent on debating and assigning blame for the dispute in the first place, they fail to heed their subjects’ desperate pleas for help. “History of the World” is definitely a wake-up call. Yet although the film offers up some wryly ironic social commentary, I’m not quite certain how well these particular events serve as its grandiose title’s metaphor. Less a world history and more an ode to humanity’s self-centered obliviousness, “History of the World in 8 Minutes” is definitely a thought provoking film either way.

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