Better Living Through Circuitry
Facts and Figures
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Saturday 14th August 1999
Distributed by: Seventh Art Releasing
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 3
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Better Living Through Circuitry Review
For one to understand this musical phenomenon, the new documentary Better Living Through Circuitry is a solid foundation for converting the facelessness of its subculture to a human level of understanding. The documentary focuses upon many aspects of the scene - the participants, the promoters, the DJs, and the techno-artists/producers. The film provides insightful, candid interviews that clearly translate the determination and the passion of these individuals. And I was equally impressed by the collection of artists included in the production: Crystal Method, Moby, DJ Spooky, Carl Cox, Electric Skychurch, Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk, Frankie Bones, Meat Beat Manifesto, Juno Reactor, BT, Scanner, Atomic Babies, Roni Size, Superstar DJ Keoki, Lords of Acid, System 7, Death in Vegas.
A notable strength of the film was the directness and honesty the people involved in the rave culture afforded the filmmakers. Everyone - the candy-ravers, the promoters, the DJs, the techno artists - shared with the audience small pieces of the personal trials, tragedies, and successes that brought them into this environment. DJ Spooky and Frankie Bones talk of their spiritual connection with deceased fathers by playing and spinning the record collection they left behind. The candy-ravers discuss traveling over eight hours for one rave to dance until dawn. The promoters devoted the music and ignoring the greed of the record labels that want to hire them to help expand their dance catalogs. The film also touches upon the negative aspects of the culture -- the danger of the drugs and the government crackdown on rave gatherings. Ravers talk of people falling down dead in front of them and others going to sleep and never waking up. And on the flip side: The DJs who find that the music acts as a drug stronger than any chemical additives coursing through the brain.
The rave culture is constantly compared to the punk movement of the late '70s and early '80s, with studio-quality music being produced by computer geeks in their bedrooms and garages. The Internet and computer technology advances in recent years have also enhanced the ability of unknown techno artists to spread their message and beats to the entire world. It is equally ironic that the film was shot in digital video and then constructed in someone's bedroom with video editing software and a Macintosh computer. Pure DIY - do it yourself.
The main message of the film is that within the rave culture a constant shift of music styles empowers the individuals within to guide and help to create a unique culture as it evolves. Put down your Backstreet Boys disc, fill a backpack full of water and lollipops, wear some comfortable shoes and clothes, find a warehouse full of people and big beats... and start living your life.
Pump it up.