Review: ‘Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness’ provides a colorful, if deeply meditative, dive

Two Buddhist monks in the documentary “Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness.”
Matthieu Ricard, left, and Mingyur Rinpoche in the documentary “Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness.”
( Area23a)

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Science and spirituality join forces in the mindful if heavily meditative documentary, “Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness.”

While ultimately offering few actual answers to such age-old queries as “What happens when we die?” and “How is it that we are aware that we are aware?” and that Big Kahuna of metaphysics, “What is the meaning of life?” the investigation brings together individuals from both disciplines to provide colorful perspective.


Among them are French scientist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, Mayan healer Josefa Kirvin Kulix and the affable Christof Koch, renowned neuroscientist and head of Seattle’s Allen Institute for Brain Science, who describes his job as “applying the cold, sodden, wet blanket of reason” to some of those more abstract speculations.

The second installment in the “Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth” trilogy by directors Frauke Sandig and Eric Black, the production also gathers input from a professor of plant behavior and cognition in Sydney and the director of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins, which studies the effects of psilocybin (the magic mushroom hallucinogenic) on volunteer subjects.

Those talking heads are wrapped in a blanket of soothingly photographed visuals and a tranquil, New Age-y score, but after a while all the tasteful images of undulating waves and pulsating jellyfish can’t help but underscore the inescapable naval-gazing that goes with the territory.

It certainly offers some consciousness-elevating food for thought, but “Aware” will unlikely be everyone’s cup of enlightenment.

‘Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness’

In English and Spanish with English subtitles

Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica