The WNYC science show Radiolab, hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, has been justly acclaimed for its novel approaches to telling science stories. (Earlier this month, Abumrad was awarded a Macarthur Foundation "genius" award. It was welcome recognition, I'm sure, but how Macarthur thought it could fairly give the award to one of the two hosts is beyond me.) Radiolab doesn't always succeed--I lost interest in the latest podcast, Loops, when it lingered too long on a "horsey dance" that I couldn't see.
It was a surprise to me to discover, however, that one of Radiolab's stories had prompted a filmmaker to produce a short video. I got the heads-up from Robert Lee Hotz, host of the Inside/Out series at New York University, which invites journalists to talk about their work. (Disclosure: I was one of those journalists a few years ago.)
Hotz brought Krulwich to NYU this week, and Krulwich showed the video, called Moments. Shot by filmmaker William Hoffman, it was a response to a Radiolab show about moments of death. Hoffman took his camera in search of moments of life.
The film starts with quick cuts of blurry shots, with a voice over of people talking about what a "moment" is. I was a little put off, but then the film settled into four minutes of human moments, each lasting no more than a few seconds, except for the last. (No spoilers here.) A woman pulls up a window shade. A carpenter drills a hole. A man throws a shovelful of dirt on an open grave. A boy's kite rises in the wind. A basketball falls through a hoop. A swimmer takes a breath.
You might ask whether this is a science film, and whether it deserves mention on the Tracker. I take a broad view of what makes a science story, and, in my view, a story that says something interesting about human emotion, feeling, and experience qualifies.
Moments grew on me. Watch it.
- Paul Raeburn