Deane Thomas, Desire Prevost
Part history lesson and part biography, "Three Wise Men - Parallel Lives" is just what it says on the box - a look at the lives of three people. Deane Thomas, Nikola Tesla, and Amode Ibrahim Atchia. I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with Tesla, but the two other people this film covers are no less impressive - and meeting some of the relatives are just as informative. If you're into documentary and biographical flicks, you will feel right at home watching this film - and if not? There may still be enough to happily eat up your hour.
The film opens with Deane Thomas, who he is, and his history. In a nutshell, we hear how Deane learned to become his own person and follow his dreams. Deane works as the wraparound character for the film, bringing it all together. We then meet a distant relative, and the film goes into the history of Nikola Tesla, which is also pretty in depth and insightful. Finally, we learn of Amode Ibrahim Atchia, and the film wraps around and concludes. These stories are all conveyed through reenactments and animations - as well as Deane Thomas as himself guiding us. If you've ever watched any documentary from History, National Geographic, or even the old-school Bio Network, you'll know just what to expect. I personally love the documentary format, as you can see from my rating, and can honestly write that I really enjoyed my time here. No question.
Typically, this section is reserved for a more detailed technical look at a production. In this case, however, there's not a whole lot to write. "Three Wise Men - Parallel Lives" looks and sounds great but more importantly, it's familiar enough to step right into and enjoy. That's not to say there's no original spin on the film, just that you'll understand the presentation as soon as you see it. The reenactments are all handled well, the animation looks great, and it's just a well-paced film all in all.
I also want to make special note of the background score. It's really, really great - adding some feeling and drama to a film that is exposition-heavy. With that said, I did find that the music may have been slightly overused. I'm pretty sure that the entire movie, or a vast majority at least, is scored. Eventually, the scoring became nothing more than background noise that occasionally swelled, bringing me back to the present. This isn't so much a complaint as it is a simple observation. I also feel that a good deal of time was spent on the Nikola Tesla subject. Again, it was not really a problem, but I already knew pretty much everything this film presented. Nikola Tesla is the subject of countless documentaries - perhaps a little less Nikola would have worked just as well. The odds are that anybody who will find and watch this film is a fan of the genre - and as such, has probably seen a lot of Tesla documentaries prior.
When it's all said and done, "Three Wise Men - Parallel Lives" ends up being exactly what you hope it will be. A great documentary. The film probably won't convert anyone who doesn't enjoy the genre, but those who love a good documentary will undoubtedly eat it up. I find that the people who enjoy this type of film the most, are those who gobble up any and all information they can get their hands on. This film is crammed full. Four stars - well done.