AWFJ Women On Film – “The Nature of Things” – Review by Susan Granger

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Ignited by the events of 9/11, independent filmmaker Roger Nygard travels around the world to places like Jerusalem, China and Rome to take a non-judgmental look at what various disparate people think about the most provocative questions of life: Why do we exist? What’s the difference between science and religion – and can they co-exist? What is the definition of God? Who is the Devil? What is faith? Is Holy Scripture really true? What is morality? What is sin? Do we have free will? Why is there genocide? Does prayer work? Do animals have souls? And is there an Afterlife?

Nygard’s previous film, “Trekkies” (1997), delved into the “Star Trek” realm, revealing its amusing community of devoted fans. While his investigative quest has now expanded into metaphysics, he maintains an amused equanimity about and deep respect for those whom he interviews, representing Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and others. That list includes sci-fi writers, scientists and musicians, along with confrontational college campus evangelist Brother Jed Smock; Rob Adonis, founder of Ultimate Christian Wrestling in Athens, Georgia; Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyen; actress Julia Sweeney; the Archdruit of Stonehenge; India’s guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; and Michael Schermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine.

Introducing his own religious upbringing, he says he was raised in an Episcopalian family, “which is sort of like Catholic-lite.” Drawing on his experience editing “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Nygard ironically juxtaposes contradictory answers, emphasizing that – in his search for truth – he knew all along that there would be a myriad of answers, although the clearest and most concise comes from seventh grader Chloe Revery, who expresses herself with clarity and conviction, noting, “I think truth is what we are all searching for, isn’t it? Even though it is sometimes more fun to search than to actually find it.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Nature of Existence” is a humorously spiritual 7, a journey encompassing ancient and modern belief systems, laws, politics and religion, which should lead to an interesting discussion after the closing credits.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.