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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Living Universe is an interstellar adventure that seeks to answer the most profound question of all: are we alone? Based on the latest scientific knowledge, we take a journey to a planet beyond our solar system in search of life. We ask the world's leading space scientists what we might find if we travel to a neighbouring star system. How do we get there and what will we find? And what will it mean for humanity when we discover we are not alone?

Review by Louise Keller:
If you are interested in life and the big picture, you will be intoxicated by this hypnotic look at the stars, the universe and its unlimited possibilities. Eight years in the making, this breathtaking documentary is a journey of the imagination. It's a wondrous journey: we are whisked away among the stars amid stunning visuals that will have you tripping...

What is an exoplanet? What is the Goldilocks zone? Is there a centre to the universe? What about a biological universe? How did our solar system begin? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Are there others like us? These are some of many questions asked in this enthralling and stimulating film in which a hypothetical star-ship (150 years in the future) searches for evidence of life - carrying with it, the hopes and dreams of humanity.

Mesmerising imagery comprising pink, blue, red and green swirls manifest themselves in the infinite realms of the universe amid glittering stars. The film captures our imagination as it canvasses concepts that snatch us from our life here on earth and open up our minds. We are travelling through millions of stars in the Milky Way ('like Champagne filling a glass'). Our guides include NASA, Harvard and MIT astrophysicists and astrochemists, planetary scientists and robotics experts. Dr Karl's narration is accessible as it keeps us on track; Professor Tamara Davis assumes the voice of the interstellar star ship's AI, Artemis, whose logs are reminiscent of those from Star Trek's USS Enterprise.

We are told there will never be an artificial intelligence system that is faultless (remember HAL in 2001?); one of the most important requirements is that it is able to recognize and correct its own mistakes. The distance between real and fantasy becomes closer and closer. Watch for the sequence about robots and how they are used on all surfaces, including swimming underwater. I found their design really interesting, having been adapted for the purpose at hand. For example, they are designed to being dropped and able to access small spaces, so are suitably robust and flexible.

I especially enjoyed the animated enthusiasm of Gentry Lee, NASA's Chief Engineer for the Planetary Flight Systems Directorate, who has a way of exciting us as he shares his insights with us. He is larger than life. But, after all, this is a big topic. He notes: 'We are an incredible miracle...This is the quest we have been on from the moment we were conscious as a species.'

It is a paradox that when we find ourselves in wide-open spaces we tend to look inwards. Similarly, when confronted by the infinite, we reflect on self. Watching this mind-opening film allows us to do exactly that. Don't miss this stunning journey into our Living Universe!

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(Aus/France, 2018)

CAST: With Gentry Lee, Steve Squyres, Sara Seager, Natalie Batalha, Francoi Forget, Stepanie Thomas, Robert R. Gaines,Avi Loeb, Aaron Parness,Chris McKay, Karin Oberg, Les Johnson, Lynn Rothschild

NARRATION: Karl Kruszelnicki, Tamara Davis

PRODUCER: Alan Erson, Marcus Gillezeau, Chris Hilton, Christine Le Goff

DIRECTOR: Vincent Amouroux, Alex Barry

SCRIPT: Marcus Gillezeau, Simon Nasht


EDITOR: Karin Steininger

MUSIC: Peter Drummond

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 2018 (various dates)

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