Mankind Is No Island. (2008)

“Mankind Is No Island” (2008)



This is damaged goods. Everything in it may look reliable and powerful, but a careful reviewing will reveal how false it is.

The film is apparently born from a clever visual idea, supported by editing. Images caught in two cities, that merge to give us a message. And editing is the key cinematic tool to achieve that message. But the deceit is that, besides a few images of homeless people and true city daily life, all the footage is in fact filmed words edited to make readable sentences. And all the rhythm is given Not by the filmed words, but by the music that follows it. So, we may be led into thinking that this actually has any cinematic value at all, when in fact it is a lazy effort, disguised as an honest amateur work. It took me several viewings to understand what was wrong.

A minor complaint is that the message is patronizing, numb, bloodless. IT tells you what you know, and it doesn’t tell it from any interesting perspective. It’s wrapped with the silly notion of treating viewers like children, in a way not even children (or specially children) should be treated. Many viewers enjoy being treated like that, that’s probably why this film had such a success. Well i don’t.

If you want a piece of editing where images are the key to the emotion and the music is just an additional support, watch this commercial:

Take out the sound in a second viewing and check how the editing stands. Do it with this “mankind…” and see how dead it becomes. IMDb doesn’t file commercials, but comparing the film i’m commenting and the example i’m linking, maybe they should.

My opinion: 1/5

This comment on IMDb


5 Responses to “Mankind Is No Island. (2008)”

  1. 1 Jason June 7, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Hi and thank you for your review of ‘Mankind is no Island’. I’m the writer/director of this film, and was interested in what you wrote and thought I’d post a reply in response.

    To make a film about homeless people, we really didn’t want to push the constant clichéd imagery that people have become desensatized to seeing. Instead, we spent 4 days filming words on signs randomly, in the hope that we could find enough words to create a strong visual narrative so we tell the story from a unique angle. We didn’t want to be preachy, and the POV we took was that of us, the film makers – actually experiencing the very emotions and sense of disgrace that the film speaks of.

    In no way was this ever intended to be “patronizing, numb or bloodless”. It certainly wasn’t a “lazy effort”, as it took us a lot of effort and energy to create. Far from it, read page after page of YouTube posts and see how a lot of people have actually been moved to change their interaction with the homeless purely because this little film opened their mind to the concept. The narrative really shouldn’t be viewed as “childish”, watch and read it again, I doubt any children would really understand the language structure or the questions raised.

    I’m certainly not professing it’s a great cinematic work by any means – however I do think your reasons for not liking could benefit from some additional perspective. The composer (John Roy) was scoring this piece as we were still filming, so when it all came together in the editing session it really was an amazingly organic process. Out of 1200 words, we managed to find just enough to tell the story as we experienced it.

    I think the measure of a good film is not related to literal visual content or how it’s post produced – it really is in the way it communicates a thought, emotion or message. I do value your comments though and thank you for making them.

    Jason van Genderen

    • 2 jenny leaver August 20, 2009 at 2:37 am

      I agree with your description of the reaction to the film by a variety of people. I have used this moving and original film and beautiful music score with several classes (high school students) and the 100% reaction is how moving it is. We study a play by Louis Nowra that raises issues of attitudes to the marginalised in our society and it has been interesting contrasting the different ways that Nowra and you use language in such different ways to communicate compassionately important ideas about a part of our lives that we do struggle with. Also we look at your film in terms of a unit we do on Voice in texts. And again the combination of the street signs and the music creating the interior monologue is such a unique and powerful – albeit very gentle – way to raise issues as it is allows the individual to have such a personal interaction. I have watched the film many times and I have been moved to tears. I especially feel that way when you remind us of our shared humanity when I read the words about father, brother and mother. Suddenly the person’s life is seen as whole not just the image of how we see them in the present. The image of you speaking to the old man is just beautiful – it’s not an easy step for many of us to take but it is a do-able one.
      I loved your film.

  2. 3 mel howard March 7, 2010 at 6:53 am

    I thought it was a great film, although it took me a few views to understand it.
    I have an assignment that asks me how it relates to belonging/not belonging???

  3. 4 nicole cam May 30, 2011 at 4:59 am

    i loved this film so much. it was a well deserved win. i think that anyone who thinks this is not a well made film or ‘childish’ is just childish themselves. It leaves many people questioning about homeless people and is a great topic to film about. Yes it does tell you what you already know, but again thats not a bad thing, it makes you think about it. The music also adds to the film it contrasts with the simple melancholy images and the innocence of the music.

    i am currently in year 12 and studying this as a concept of belonging, Social rejection. i must say i have never enjoyed doing an english assignment in my life!

    Great job.
    this is far better than any television advertisement i have ever seen. i also think it would be a great one too, as it raises awarenesses about things in everyday life that we just turn a blind eye to.

  4. 5 Annabelle November 6, 2011 at 8:25 am

    what is the name of the song to this?
    this is amazing, it inspires me to choreograph a new dance to this ! thankyou <3

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