OK, it’s the only one I’ve ever seen, and probably the only one that exists. But that’s neither here nor there. Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives is a great documentary. And it’s great not only because it features one of my favorite indie rock stars — Mark Everett of the Eels. It’s because it’s well-executed, I learned things, and there’s a quest of sorts that creates a bit of suspense. It’s fun to watch, and it’s only an hour long. And brevity is a dying art that I appreciate wherever I can find it.
I’ve seen the Eels in concert more than any other band, by a long-shot. Probably ten times total, somewhere in that neighborhood. My kids grew up listening to their music, alongside the Beatles and all the classics. Mark Everett, who is known to fans as E, is a god in our house. But why is he involved in a film about physics? You ask good questions, my friend.
As unlikely as it might seem, the father of the singer in this video was an accomplished physicist who came up with the “many-worlds” theory. His name was Hugh Everett, and when he first presented the theory it was rejected and ridiculed. It turns out the physicist community is just as petty, catty and shitty as any other. From all accounts, E’s father never recovered from this rejection, not really. Indeed, he died at age 51. However… after he was gone there was a reexamination of his work and he’s now considered to be a genius. And how’s that for a kick to the balls?
In the documentary E meets with physicists who knew his father, and others who attempt to help him understand his father’s signature contribution. It’s very interesting, and a lot of fun. In fact, at one of their shows I attended in Philly they played the entire movie as the opening act. After the Eels came out and ripped through two or three songs E asked the audience, “So, do you want more quantum physics, or more rock n roll?” When the audience responded in the predictable manner, E muttered, “Yeah. Take that, Dad.”
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the Eels (something you should remedy) I think you’ll enjoy this movie. It was produced by the BBC, and is very well done. It’s available right here, whenever you want to watch it. In this world, and probably a few of the others too.
I also recommend E’s autobiography, Things The Grandchildren Should Know. It’s one of the best, least-pretentious rock bios I’ve ever read. There’s also a well-reviewed book about Hugh Everett, but I haven’t read it yet.
Do you enjoy documentaries? I love ’em. In fact, I just signed up for HBO Max because of all the docs they have on there. I’m planning to watch Class Action Park ASAP. Man, that shit is right in my wheelhouse.
What are your favorite documentaries? Which ones do you recommend? Tell us all about it, won’t you?
And I’ll see you guys again soon.
Have a great day!