CROP CIRCLES: QUEST FOR TRUTH (director/producer: William Gazecki; cinematographer: Ariane Compagnone; editor: Morgan Barnard; music: David Hamilton; cast: Michael Glickman, Colin Andrews, Nancy Talbott, John Michel, Busty Taylor, John Martineau, W.C. Levengood, Suzanne Taylor; Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: NR; Open Edge Media; 2002)

"This is an intelligent film, no crackpots here, that successfully delivers its message without dumbing it down."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

If you want some legitimate info about the phenomena of crop circles then William Gazecki's no-nonsense documentary, Crop Circles: Quest for Truth, is the source to go to. Gazecki's prior work "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" was a documentary in which he received an Oscar nomination in 1998. "Crop Circles" is a well-packaged DVD that features crystal clear photos of all kinds of crop circles first documented in earnest in the 1970s and have since developed into more complex geometrical patterns with sometimes as many as 100 or more circles. Since the 1980s there have been many examples photographed at various time periods and some right after the crop circle appeared, and they were taken from many angles including the most impressive aerial shots. The film also includes numerous inner circle representatives from the field of crop circle research. The insiders include researchers, authors, scientists, scholars, mathematicians, farmers, aficionados, pilots and photographers explaining their findings and theories, all who are as passionate as Mr. Gazecki is in their belief that this is no man-made hoax we are dealing with but a genuine mystery with spiritual implications. The consensus seems to be that the circle is something sacred (eternal) to the universe as a symbol for humanity, and contact is trying to be made. No one knows for sure what it means as research is in the early stages, or how or why they are developed. But the experts seem to concur that they are not placed there to harm but rather to inspire us and it's a multiple energy force that could emanate from aliens, the supernatural, God, humans or something in-between. By humans, it's suggested that it's a phenomenon we could be creating as a mirror of ourselves. That sounds much like Jung's theory of his collective archetypal unconscious, and that's an explanation I'm most comfortable with. But for viewers coming from different points of view, you're bound to find one researcher who hits home with you. The many theories range from a Plasma Vortex to Electromagnetic Energies.  And, I'm sure that's only the tip of the iceberg in theories, so for those who are drawn to studying crop circles the future seems bright.

On her website and while interviewed on film the executive producer, British philanthropist Suzanne Taylor, provides such tidbits as: "Crop Circles are unexplained designs that are imprinted over the span of usually one night in fields of mostly wheat & corn, but have also occurred in barley, oats, rape (canola), grass, trees, and even snow." In other words she states, "any organic material in which a distinguishable impression can be made. They occur in crops during the spring & summer seasons throughout various regions of the world, such as in the U.S., Canada, throughout Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. In fact, the only two countries where crop circle have never been reported are China and South Africa. For the thousands reported every year, the vast majority go completely undetected. Most of the complex formations occur in the United Kingdom and they are also more likely to be detected because of the country's smaller land mass, therefore a large majority of researchers head to England every summer to conduct their independent research."

It should also be noted that religious sites such as Stonehenge or around Neolithic temples seem to be good places to locate crop circles, as their spiritual energy acts to attract these mysterious designs on their fields. The crop circles seem not only to attract unusual energy patterns but balls of light, as this is also a mystery that the experts are flailing away at in their attempt to gain knowledge in this, perhaps, evolutionary development of mankind. Some believe these balls of light are responsible for mowing down the crops at super-speed.

If you get nothing else from this film, at least it is easy to see that the crop circles are beautiful to look at and that it's not likely that they all are hoaxes. The film gets into detailed and highly technical responses of why not, such as by observing the perfection of the formations and the speed with which they are created and the complexity of the designs which all but rule out human fakery -- as only a few obvious hoaxes took place and were soon discovered. I have no problem that director-producer Gazecki didn't include skeptics or debunkers, as his film was crowded enough with known voices in that field who have the respect of their peers and needed this opportunity to reach outside of their inner circle. Those who think it's a fraud or have many more questions to ask, can be spurred on by this film to explore the truth further (perhaps make their own film, which is not a bad idea!). It seems that we are at a stage where we don't know that much, and at least in "Crop Circles" we got a chance to see what we do know and how awe-struck those in the field are by what they have seen.

This documentary might remind one of a college lecture or watching a PBS science special or of a fact-finding mission, and it might disappoint some that it does not have the kicks found in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs -- a popular but silly entertainment film. But that's not fair to this more probing and eye-opening film. It shouldn't be judged by slick entertainment-only-standards, as its appeal is that there's something here to learn that is perhaps more important than we presently realize. "Signs" said nothing relevant about crop circles except to exploit the subject in an insulting way by its hostile portrayal of invading extraterrestrials as being responsible for the crop circles (that kind of paranoia feeds into an anti-intellectual and warlike climate this country should try to get away from). Instead, Mr. Gazecki is comfortable with the sober approach of substance over style, which separates the serious seekers from the frivolous ones. This is an intelligent film, no crackpots here, that successfully delivers its message without dumbing it down. The film might not be for everyone or satisfy everyone, but those who are interested in the subject matter will be rewarded with an insider's look at how the main body of crop circle researchers and scientists view these findings. It never hurts to know more about the universe.

REVIEWED ON 3/7/2003     GRADE: B +

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"