DVD Review: Journey of the Universe & Conversations



Do you ever want to understand the big questions? How did this whole thing start? How did it keep evolving? Where is it going? Is it all going to end? Is it all linked together? Is it possible to have a slight bit of insight in less than an hour? Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker think they can deliver it. Instead of a dry lecture accompanied by a Power Point presentation, Swimme takes us for a trip around the Greek island of Samos. This is a significant spot in the Aegean Sea since Pythagoras was born here. He was a mathematics genius who tried to tie things together with math. Swimme constructs a narrative covers the last 14 billion years and a peak into the near future on Journey of the Universe.

Swimme’s journey around the island helps visually reinforce his message about how the formation of the world has shaped the emergence of man and civilization. He touches on the point when man started to impact the Earth. There’s plenty of pondering in a short amount of time. While it seems like he’s skimming through concepts, Journey Of the Universe: Conversations allows viewers to get a deeper understanding. Mary Evelyn Tucker explores topics with experts and academics that Swimme mentions. The Yale professor allows her subjects to explain the start of the universe, how the galaxies formed, how life emerged and how it can be sustained. The guest speakers are very informative and don’t try to lose the casually interested in their explanations. Clips from the film are included so that the interviews can be absorbed as break out sessions. There are discussions about Permaculture and Ecological Economics that will make you question items in the grocery store. There’s about 10 hours of footage on Conversations that will give a further understanding of Tucker and Swimme’s unifying of so many big questions.

Co-director David Kennard was a producer on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. He’s able to bring the feel of that show into this project. Journey of the Universe reminds me of the film Mindwalk. It seems like a simple visit to a picturesque island. But what gets spoken is more important than any background information about the tourist sights.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The movie of Journey of the Universe looks good when Swimme walks around the island. The interviews are taken at a myriad of locations. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 for the feature film. They mix the sounds of the island into the talk. The subtitles are in English and Spanish on the feature film.

Conversations could be considered the bonus feature.

Journey of the Universe is a walk and talk that brings up the big questions of existence. Swimme and Tucker bring together how the creation of the world and the evolving nature of human civilization are tied together.

Shelter Island presents Journey of the Universe and Journey of the Universe: Conversations. Directed by Patsy Northcutt & David Kennard. Screenplay by: Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker. Starring: Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker. Boxset Contents: 11 hours on 5 DVDs. Released: June 4, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.