It’s not everyday a documentary comes along that truly challenges your world view, but when it does, it is certainly worth writing about.
“Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things,” is undoubtedly one of the most striking and thought-provoking documentaries I have watched in a long time. Available on Netflix, this 1 hour and twenty-minute documentary focuses on the idea of “living more deliberately with less” and breaking free from the chains of mindless materialism.
This documentary primarily centers its attention on two men, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, also known as “The Minimalists”. Both Millburn and Nicodemus spent their early twenties in the sole pursuit of obtaining material items and climbing the corporate ladder. Both men end up living blinkered lives, ignoring their true personal desires and failing to appreciate those around them, eventually leading to several unpleasant consequences.
It is not until both men walk away from their material rich, but substance lacking lives and turn over a new leaf, focused on experiences and human connection, that they find purpose and fulfillment. Traveling the country with nothing but a small bag each, the two friends spread their message to anyone who will listen, whether it be a few people sitting shyly at the back of an amphitheater or a bookstore brimming with eager fans.
With montages of crazy Black Friday mobs and flashes of inescapable advertising campaigns, this documentary really drives home the fact that society has become obsessed with consumerism, often at the expense of other areas our lives. A number of academics and experts in various fields give their thoughts on how society has become so material-centric and offer several interesting solutions to the problem of over consumption, along with the benefits of living a more simple life.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this documentary as much as I did, was due to the balanced perspective it put forth. No one featured in the documentary attempts to convince the audience that the only way to be happy is to burn everything they own and live in a treehouse. Instead, it encourages the viewer to pay attention to their purchasing habits and ask themselves if their current lifestyle is bringing them true happiness.
Millburn states that minimalism is not about getting rid of everything to an ridiculous degree. It’s about purchasing items will bring real value to your life, finding happiness beyond money and not getting swept up in compulsive buying. Both Millburn and Nicodemus focus on promoting balance between relentless materialism and smart purchasing habits, not throwing away useful items or depriving oneself.
Along with Millburn and Necodemus, this documentary features many eclectic people, each of whom have embraced the concept of minimalism in their own unique way. From living in tiny houses to owning 33 items of clothing, it is fascinating to see how people can live with so little and instead find true happiness through other avenues.
While I certainly won’t be dumping all my possessions into a dumpster anytime soon nor do I think this is the kind of action the documentary attempts to evoke, I will definitely think twice before making an unnecessary purchase and continue to find happiness in the little things. There really is so much more to life than just the aggregation of possessions.
I would highly recommend watching this documentary if you are looking to watch something that will force you to examine your behaviors and make you question deeply ingrained societal habits. You’ll definitely have some food for thought to consider after watching!
Check out the trailer below if you’d like to learn more!