Sunday, April 25, 2010

David Wants To Fly [Hot Docs review]

96 min ~ Germany, Austria & Switzerland
Director: David Sieveking ~ Producers: Martin Heisler & Carl-Ludwig Rettinger

Rating (out of 4 stars):
Hot Docs showtimes

Young, German filmmaker David Sieveking takes the advice of his idol, David Lynch, and studied transcendental meditation (TM), which was founded by the same guru whom The Beatles embraced in 1968, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. David embraces TM and one days hope to "fly" while cross-legged in the meditative position, which looks like a dodo hopping across the floor.

Problem is, the deeper he delves, the more inconsistencies he uncovers: a power struggle that erupts after Maharashi dies; an estate worth billions; the German yogi who wants to open an institute to make Germany "invincible" again, which sounds like Hitler to some; finding a former assistant who poured his savings into serving TM until he was tossed away; a woman whom Maharishi seduced then abandoned; a disillusioned donor who poured $150 million into TM; and so on.

I don't know if Sieveking set out to expose TM or if it came about by serendipity. What's more convincing is TM being a cult with gurus riding stretch limos, mind control, and lawsuits threatening nosy filmmakers.

Oddly enough, Sieveking uses his rocky relationship with his girlfriend as a subplot and it somehow works. Their rollercoaster romance emotionally grounds the film, which is really an investigative piece but told in a wide-eyed tongue-in-cheek manner. David Wants To Fly won't expand your consciousness, but open your eyes.

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