Life in a Day (2011)


Directors Kevin Macdonald and Ridley Scott got together to concoct a simple experiment, with not-so simple results: Ask that people from all over the globe submit footage of what they do on YouTube on the day that was Saturday, July 24, 2010. Over 65,000 hours of footage was submitted, and from those 65,000 hours, they were able to spruce together an-hour-and-a-half movie that shows what people do on an average day. Sometimes these people’s days tend to be either sad, happy, or terribly uneventful, but regardless, it is a day in the life of actual human-beings that just so happen to have cameras with them, filming what it is that they do, who they are as people and what they contribute to the world around them, if anything at all.

I must say, in the 21st Century, it is no surprise to me whatsoever that a movie like this has been made. Yes, it seems like a crazy task that would be incredibly daunting for even the most talented filmmakers like Scott or Macdonald to complete, but somehow, they did and the finished-product ends up giving exactly what we were promised in the first place: Lives in the day of many people from all over the world.

Apparently, this type of stuff DOES happen in the world.
Apparently, this type of stuff DOES happen in the world.

While I will admit that some of these pieces of footage aren’t the most exciting things to be seen, they’re still worth seeing for the sole fact that they were made from real people, with real cameras, and real ideas in their mind. Some of the stuff that these people do in front of the camera do seem a little bit like a put-on, but never to the point of where it’s just them smiling for the camera, trying to hog it up as much as they can so they can get a bit of screen-time in the movie. Instead what we get, are people that actually live their lives, regardless of how interesting they may or may not be.

And in that general regard, the movie works because it presents us many different view-points we would have never thought of, not in a million years of looking through, and yet, we are and we can’t help but feel inspired to want to grab your camera, get out and document what you have shaking and baking in your life right now. However, you could also do that all without the camera. You don’t always need it, you know?

There are some cool bits in here like a skydiver’s view as he’s heading towards the ground, a couple of shots of people up in the mountains, and even, a festival in some part of the world where apparently, people started getting all crammed-in and dropping like flies. The cool part about that bit isn’t that people were dying, it was that it was a crisis that actually happened in the world, and better yet, had to happen on that day, with so many people just standing around, documenting every second of it. Imagine if we took more montages of one event as it was happening, from all sorts of different view-points? Maybe everybody would be nicer to each other? Or then again, maybe not? Probably not at all actually, but hell, it’s a thought.

And thoughts is what Macdonald wants you to have when watching this movie, the only problem is that he doesn’t really know which ones. Since this whole movie is such a mixed-bag of submitted videos and the content they include, you never quite know or see where Macdonald’s going with all of this, but instead, trust in him that he’ll at least show some sort of cohesion in the process to where you understand why he’s showing this one clip, after this other one. However, it’s not always cohesive.

For instance, in order to show how, even on this one day, there is some brutal violence occurring in this world, mainly onto animals, Macdonald decides to include a five-minute or so montage of pigs being burned alive, fish being brought out of water and suffocating to death and probably the most jarring clip out of this whole movie, the one that still stampedes into my mind every once and awhile, a clip where we see a cow get shot in the head a couple of times, die and get its slit cut-open at a meat factory. Whoever the person was that decided to not only film this, but send it in as a possible submission, is a messed-up dude that I would not want to meet in the light of day? But the same could also be said for Macdonald for actually including this bit in, as well as the rest of the montage. Have no clue what it was supposed to say, signify or even bring up in terms of questions of our humanity, but it definitely left an impression on me in all of the right, and wrong ways possible.

Oh, I remember the last time I did that.....
Oh, I remember the last time I did that…..

Maybe that was the point after all? Hmm….

Anyway, there are plenty of other times in this movie where I was a little disturbed, but overall, I still felt like Macdonald chose carefully in what he was showing us, and gave us some of the best footage he could skim-through. You could definitely see some cooler, far better videos on YouTube right here, right now, but Macdonald is giving you the best of the bunch; showing you that while you may feel like life sucks or is taken for granted, well some others, sometimes on the opposite end of the Earth, things the same thing, or maybe even the exact opposite. Who knows!?!? What I do know is that all of our lives are made up of something that’s pure and worth sticking around for, no matter what lies in the future. Because none of us know and surely none of us can tell what’s going to happen next in our lives, so why fret over it? Just enjoy the hell out of life and live, dammit!

Consensus: The whole narrative to Life in a Day is a conceit that leaves little to no actual meaning or message, but overall, every clip feels deserving of being seen by all those around the world, no matter how simple, exciting, or slice-of-life they may be. They’re just another part of life, and that’s that.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

So mundane. So life-ish.
So mundane. So life-ish.

Photo’s Credit to:


  1. I’ve been intrigued by this film for a while but have never reminded myself to see it. So, thanks for the reminder! The fact that they chose to include the moments of animal cruelty and human death is a testament to how ‘real’ and uncensored they wanted the day to seem, I suppose. I would find those parts difficult to watch, but thankfully the overall message of the film seems to be a positive one! Great review!

  2. Nice man, I heard a little something about this a long while ago but it has totally slipped my mind since, I really want to check this out. Sounds super cool. Different. Honest. ?

  3. Funny how I was just thinking of this one. It’s not that memorable, but it’s terribly unique. That’s why I enjoyed it so much, even with its dull spots. Great review.

    P.S.: Life in a Day was my 400th review. It feels like just yesterday that I saw it. There’s my thesis for Life in a Day 2: Time Flies. Haha.

  4. Loved watching this film – really interesting to see so many different walks of life and so many similarities nonetheless. Nice review.

  5. I saw the British version of this a couple of years back and it surprised me how much it sucked me in. Every day lives, but it was honestly some of the most touching things I’ve seen. Made all the more heart wrenching because it’s real. Have had this on my to-watch list for a very long time. Currently on a docu-film kick, so definitely getting this in soon.

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