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Molotov Alva And His Search For The Creator: A Second Life Odyssey (2008)

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Molotov Alva And His Search For The Creator: A Second Life Odyssey (2008)

Molotov Alva in Second Life

Doug Gayeton

The Bottom Line

Director Douglas Gayeton, who co-created the video game based on the feature film Johnny Mnemonic, takes us on an adventure into the virtual world of A Second Life, the online community inhabited by some nine million residents (or users). Armed with curiosity and a virtual camera, Molotov Alva embarks on a journey of self-discovery. While most documentary film tell true their stories about real people and situations, this unusual nonfiction feature delves into virtual reality, and is based upon a fictitious character’s search for personal definition, meaning and, ultimately, for the creator.

Pros

  • Pushes the envelope on nonfiction filmmaking.
  • A probing and provocative investigation of the perceptions of virtual reality.
  • Molotov is a kind of everyman. Anyone who has visited cyberspace can identify with his quest.

Cons

  • The graphics are surprisingly unimaginative and rather crudely executed.
  • Although it involves animated characters, the story isn’t very animated.

Description

  • As Molotov runs along the virtual shore, he tests surf and sand to see whether he can still feel them, as he did in reality.
  • Molotov designs a house with everything he’s always wanted, then finds that he needs none of it.
  • One of Molotov’s new found virtual friends, a hot babe, reveals that in real life she’s a plain Jane.
  • Molotov goes through a series of virtual incarnations only to find that he wants to be himself.

Guide Review - Molotov Alva And His Search For The Creator: A Second Life Odyssey (2008)

Molotov Alva arrives in A Second Life as an unformed being, and quickly learns he can redesign himself to be anything, can position himself in any self-generated environment, can possess anything he desires. But, as he experiments with identities, he finds himself constantly questioning who he is and seeking realization. Using famous quotes from Einstein, Robert Louis Stevenson and other great thinkers as guidelines, he progresses through a series of fantasy situations and relationships that seemingly represent a universal quest for meaning.

In cyberspace, Molotov tests whether he's still sensitive to the environment, satisfied by possessions, and needs community--or not. As he travels, Molotov uses his virtual camera to record the places he visits and people he meets in order to ’document’ his new virtual life--so he won’t forget it as he has forgotten his real life. We are shown Molotov in virtual life in color, but the images he records are shown in black and white. However, both sets of images are equally bland and lifeless.

The soundtrack doesn't help. Molotov’s first person voiceover narrative is a constantly droning stream of consciousness about his realizations in the virtual world. Few other characters speak--and, when they do, their mouths don’t move, so their voices come across as a dissociated thought track. Perhaps this directorial choice was made because whatever takes place in cyberspace is, in reality, just thought. Even so, it doesn‘t work very well. It‘s tedious.

The most interesting thing about the film is that it is presented as a documentary and, as such, poses some interesting questions about the nature of truth--and reality--in cinema and, for that matter, in the real world. But, as a work of art, it’s slighter than it should be--despite its philosophical pretensions and attempts to probe into the nature of things.

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