As a sequel of sorts to his 2005 documentary, Earthlings, comes Shaun Monson’s Unity. Like its predecessor, the film is concerned with the ruthless behaviour of humans, though takes it a step further by focusing not just on mankind’s treatment of animals, but of humanity itself. As one would expect, it cannot resist being self-righteous at times, but it is ultimately a compelling and transcendental watch.
From its opening to its conclusion, Unity is determined to stir emotion, and Monson uses a multitude of dramatic clips to achieve the desired effect. The film is divided into five sections: Cosmic (an exploration of existentialism), Mind and Body (analyses of what makes us human), Love (what it is to truly love), and Soul (a study of human consciousness). The documentary is narrated by a mixed group of 100 international celebrities, from actors to businessmen, representing the diverse collective voice of humanity.
Monson’s achievement of bringing together such a large group of respected individuals is impressive, although due to the loud soundtrack, each speaker’s voice is illustrated with omnipresent subtitles and an identifying photograph, which is incredibly distracting at first. Yet what they are saying is worth listening to. Monson’s script is intelligently written, much to his credit, and features quotes from many eminent theorists and speakers to support it. Illustrated carefully with clips that are often upsetting or shocking, it is a film that attempts to change opinions with a reality check for the human race, mixed with a little emotional manipulation. Yearning for the end of the “self” construct, the film urges for unity as a species, and with the universe.
However, the movement into commenting on spiritualism may go too far – Monson’s theorising of greater spiritual awareness takes the audience to a new age yoga studio in Los Angeles. However, for the most part, his picture entertains with its varied clips and multiple narrators preaching nothing but a need for greater love and empathy in the world. Conversely, its very nature and the questions it asks about the structure of society mean that it certainly won’t be popular with everyone.
Unity is released nationwide on 12th August 2015.
Watch the trailer for Unity here: