Sparing the viewer such extremes as the smug condescension of skeptical inquiry and the awful awe-filled wonder of crystal-toting New Age neo-pagans, CROP CIRCLES: QUEST FOR TRUTH, has only one agenda in its exploration of crop circles, listening to people with something to say beyond those extremes I mentioned before and then letting us draw our own conclusions. Its as refreshing in that approach as it is intriguing in its revelations.
Filmmaker William Gazecki brought a similar open-minded inquiry to his Oscar-nominated film, WACO: THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, about the government raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco in 1993. Like that film, CROP CIRCLES raises questions that arent easy to dismiss and, more, makes you ponder why the establishment, in this case the scientific community, turns a disinterested and somewhat uppity blind eye to them.
The people Gazecki interviews are a wonderful mix of philosophers, artists, farmers, and ordinary folk whose lives have been impacted by seeing these circles. Some of their comments may have more to do with projecting their own hopes and fears onto what the circles mean, but all are worth listening to on some level. With predictable excitement, philosophers talk about higher intelligences at work interacting with us. The artists enthuse about the precise mathematical correlations hidden within the circles that cant be there by chance. More prosaic are the farmers, who have seen these circles for generations and accept them as a natural phenomenon with the same equanimity as they accept the sun rising in the east . It was from one of them I garnered my Aha moment as she asks the camera, If theyre all hoaxes, where are the practice ones? Where are the half-finished ones?
Eminently entertaining and enlightening, a heady combination that, is Nancy Talbot, renegade researcher with airtight evidence and a determined gleam in her eyes. She pulls photos and lab reports and plant samples from a seemingly bottomless treasure trove, effectively demolishing the mainstreams attempts to dismiss all the circles as hoaxes with germination charts of seeds taken from the sites and their surroundings, exploded nodes from flattened plants, and microscopic magnets left in the soil.
The most tantalizing shot, though, is of what appear to be a ball of light moving through a field. Witnesses report seeing such things before circles appear and this one, bobbing and weaving through the crop moves in a way that isnt quite like a bird and certainly isnt something along the lines of a Frisbee(tm).
The footage of the crop circles themselves is dazzling. Seen from above, they are startling even to those familiar with them. From ground level, they are just as lovely and even more interesting, if possible, as the patterns become labyrinths in fields of standing crops whose patterns are not readily apparent to the earth-bound. Whatever they are, whatever makes them appear, they are irresistibly fascinating, and Gazeckis film delivers on both their mystery and their beauty.