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Written by: n/a
Directed by: William Gazecki
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 115
Date: 08/23/2002
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Crop Circles: Quest for Truth (2002)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Corn Identity

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I honestly didn't think much about crop circles before Signs came out -- and, actually, I haven't thought about them much since then. Oh, I'd heard the claim that crop circles are generally too perfect to have been created by human hands. But someone must have made them, right? The new documentary Crop Circles: Quest for Truth, opening today at the Opera Plaza, does not answer that question exactly, but it does provide plenty of scientific data and theoretical speculation -- enough to turn a casual viewer into a believer.

Going into "Crop Circles," I assumed it was going to be a slick, measly 60- or 70-minute item that would later be included on the Signs DVD. But this is a full 120-minute feature, directed by William Gazecki of the Oscar-nominated Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997). And it's anything but slick or measly. According to the film, crop circles were first discovered and documented only a few decades ago, and they've increased in complexity and number every year. What was once a simple, perfect circle has developed into designs involving hundreds of perfect circles, in perfect mathematical and artistic alignment. Gazecki interviews dozens of experts in various fields, beginning with mathematicians, who have graphed and charted crop circles, integrating mathematical formulas and finding them frighteningly exact. Other scholars point out that the patterns reflect Celtic symbols, and the film shows us the image of a giant horse that was carved into a hillside centuries ago. Could the crop circles be coming from the past? A couple of scientists have done work on the crops themselves, finding little bursts of energy in the bent stalks. But on top of that, they found that even the unbent crops outside the circles contained traces of that same energy. If some prankster were doing this on purpose, why would he or she need to zap the outlying crops?

As one interviewee states, "I've seen the results of a bunch of people tromping around in there and they make a hell of a mess. They can't help it." Yet the bent-down crops are always perfect. Another interviewee asks, "If pranksters are doing this, where are the practice circles? Where are the imperfect ones?" The film moves on to the idea of UFOs, which is closer to the idea M. Night Shyamalan came up with for Signs. Several witnesses report seeing a little glowing ball floating over the crop circles, and moving with too much precision, too much purpose to simply be an air bubble. One such ball has been captured on videotape, and the film shows it to us, even though no one has any explanation for it. Finally, Gazecki asks his experts for enlightenment and theories. One theorist demonstrates that the circles may be shadows from the fourth dimension, appearing in our world in three dimensions (much the same way we cast a shadow in two-dimensions). Most other scholars seem to believe that the circles originate from someplace other than a physical force coming from above ground -- that these are not UFO landing sites. One question I had that the film doesn't answer is: Why crops? Why not a football field or a public park or a parking lot?

Though the film is shot on video and looks absolutely godawful -- and at least half of it is occupied by talking heads -- Gazecki makes Crop Circles a riveting experience. He begins with the concrete observations and brings us slowly into more intangible discussions, ending with pure philosophy. The film has a sense of awe and excitement to it. Gazecki makes us feel privy to some great discovery, as if we're in a room with the world's smartest people watching them uncover one of the world's great riddles. Not one of the people interviewed seems like a crackpot, and many of them are quick to express their one-time cynicism on this subject. But after studying the phenomenon, all of them believe that the crop circles are real and not pranks. Yet none of them has a final answer as to what causes them and what they mean. Most important, Crop Circles forces the viewer to put our world into perspective. As you watch, you begin to really wonder what this world is all about and how it works and how you fit in, in a metaphysical kind of way. Not even Signs dared to look at such a big Big Picture. For any human being living on the planet Earth, "Crop Circles" is the one must-see film this week.

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