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Review: MAU (2021)

MAU Review


Bruce Mau is one of the greatest visionary designers in the world. He tells first hand about his life story: what made him a creator and what helped him make the decisions that would shape the world into a bigger and better place. Mau is trying to show that design is essential for the human species to thrive and always brings optimism as his motto to improve human relationships with the world as we see it. He is a figure that combines a progressive attitude with his work, inspiring thousands of people, with the notion that redesigning our lives can be the recipe of creating a more evolved and happier human community.

MAU is a documentary that achieves something precious, although not perfect in some of its approaches. It’s a film that has a message of progress and relies on the easy-going personality of its main subject to project some interesting ideas of how mankind can still correct past mistakes and pave the way to a better, more colorful world. Design is essential in our lives and may well be the answer to uplift the not-so-bright future of our planet, as Bruce Mau explains in his many conferences that we have to redesign in a massive scale if we want to stick around a bit longer. Bruce Mau is absolutely charismatic and he casts a spell throughout the entire film, helped by artistic directors who garnish the images with some visual creativity, invinting the audience to keep invested in the long run. With great cinematography, MAU is humble enough to portray its leading man as someone who is faithful to its humanity instead of nourishing an arrogant ego. And Bruce certainly helps with that, making this documentary extremely captivating and spreading its most important messages in a classy, joyful, and positive way.

But even though MAU is a documentary that has some good surprises, sometimes it acts as a virtual class for designers, which prevents it to rise as something unique. By relying entirely on the fascination for its subject, MAU becomes terribly focused in enhancing his visionary principles and that makes it too specific for a general audience to appreciate its value. Design may be something that people need in their daily lives, but MAU, as a film, is something only a few will feel entirely involved with, because having the “design guru” speaking for himself and bringing people close to him to the mix doesn’t cover the whole influence this designer star has to the common people. It’s important to have testimonies of how people, whose Mau’s persona and work has touched, other than the people whom he worked with and/or are his friends or family members, perceive his talent and in what way has he changed their lives and mentalities.

By being too focused on only one thing, MAU becomes a product made for designers all over the world, and loses its other audience, who has never heard of him and doesn’t understand the power that design has for everyone. And even if it presents itself as an artistic small exercise of filmmaking, due to the commitment of the Bergmann’s, it sometimes feels like a virtual class made into an extended video, like a moving PowerPoint presentation that is telling the story of design’s biggest artist. Even if MAU is educational, its value is bigger then what is presented, and what helps the audience (in its whole) relate to it is the fascination of its directing duo towards its subject, which ultimately makes us feel interested throughout its runtime and appreciate a star that is just as big as Lady Gaga and Larry Brilliant for their contribution to modern society.

Therefore, MAU is an artistic little documentary that is not too levelled in supporting the impact of a charismatic star of a very specific field, but ultimately leaves you comfortable by approaching a theme that has never probably crossed your mind and is informative of how redesigning may be what helps the human species to thrive in the near future.

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Title: MAU

Original Title: MAU

Director: Benjamin Bergmann & Jono Bergmann

Runtime: 77 min.

Trailer | MAU