Did you know that there is a whole community of people living in the tunnels of Las Vegas? Or that people can be a part of project that emulates what life may be like of Mars? Neither did I. Documentary filmmaker Steiner presents us with an immersive, yet painstakingly obvious exploration of mankind; Above & Below.
As we are introduced to Dan, living in his solar powered bunker in the middle of the desert, we immediately see he is lonely. His hippy, free thinking way of life, seems to be working but when the power cuts out or his truck stops ticking over, a longing for this modern society we live in surfaces. This is then juxtaposed with the surreal images of people in space suits, bounding around a Utah desert, simulating what life might be like on the planet Mars. As we are essentially transported into a sci-fi environment, we witness the sustainability of living in such conditions but also the dangers that coincide with it. Living on another planet again evokes thought of cinema. Something achievable only through CGI and bulky space costumes, but for April and her group this is their preferred next step to prepare to survive in this disintegrating world we live in.
Focusing on such an interesting subject certainly helps Above & Below reach its credits, albeit this is rather unnecessarily drawn out. The longevity of this documentary allows for long, lingering takes and repetitive shots that dilute the moral of the story. Ultimately, Steiner addresses that there are many worlds hidden away and only accessible to those living them and alien to the rest of us. An interesting watch, nonetheless, if you can make it through these, at times, quite heartbreaking stories.
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