What would happen to the human race if a being from outer space actually landed on Earth? Not simply the immediate ramifications of quarantine and military support but culturally, spiritually and politically. What would it mean for us as a community? The Visit is a sedate and often thoughtful look at this idea from conceptual artist Michael Madsen.
Madsen puts us in the position of this potential extra-terrestrial, having various government, scientific, chemical, engineering, and philosophical minds address us in turn asking their questions. The effect is actually heart-warming; to see a collection of professionals so invested in the role-play of the documentary is a stirring experience. It is the enthusiasm of those involved who keep Madsen’s project from becoming a hollow exercise. But, in the end, this isn’t a documentary about an alien invasion, it’s a documentary about the human race. Madsen is holding up the mirror and asking, are we ready to take our place in the universe? Nothing says this clearer than one expert’s stunning imaginary wander through a ship crafted to look like numerous biomes and recognisable domestics of Earth.
Madsen does have a lot on his plate for an 80 minute run-time and he has issues reigning everything into a clear path that both intrigues and educates. There are many philosophical questions, far too many elongated segments of slow motion, and a kind of hypnotic near sleep-inducing narration that causes the piece to strain viewer attention. Perhaps the promise of an alien encounter is just too overwhelming a concept to successfully, creatively, and succinctly pull-off. Either way, this is still enjoyable and educational watch.
Dir: Michael Madsen