Wake Up is the best kind of film — a quest story that is true. We follow one man’s journey, in this case Director Jonas Elrod, as he comes to terms with his new found ability to see spirits and other forms of energy, and his subsequent travels to find answers and the purpose behind these life changing phenomena. Jonas’ encounters with the medical community, various religious leaders and holistic practitioners are engaging, as he grapples with fears that he is crazy and reluctance to embrace his new visions.
The director opens the film by stating that he sees angels, demons, spirits of dead people and other lights and entities. After wisely ruling out any possible mental or physical defect that could be producing the visions, Jonas, along with his girlfriend, Mara, begin to reluctantly accept that the phenomena are real. Jonas relates that he has been given the message to spread the word of these other realities. Before he can do this though, he wants to understand why this began happening to him, and what purpose there could be behind it.
Jonas begins to visit a variety of people who may hold a piece of the answers he needs. Starting with the Christian church near his home town, and moving on through a Sufi mystic, a Zen monastery, a holistic enlightenment center, and more, Jonas searches both for the “why” of his experience as well as practical advice for how to live with this in his life.
In an effort to produce “proof” of his experience for his girlfriend, Jonas visits Umberto Di Grazia, a renowned photographer in Rome, who has had some success with documenting the non-visible spectrum of energies. One of his early encounters is with the acupuncturist Abdi Assadi, who reassures Jonas and recommends grounded meditation to help protect and stabilize himself. Later in the film, as Jonas and his girlfriend struggle with how their relationship can survive all the weirdness, Assadi recommends fully embracing the relationship as the most spiritual and beautiful quest of all. As Jonas travels back and forth across the country he meets with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, the Sufi sheik, and Joan Halifax, the Buddhist monk. He visits the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, and speaks with J.Z. Knight, and discusses the Global Consciousness project with Roger Nelson at Princeton University. He meets up with Stephen Schwartz at the Cognitive Science Labratory and gets still another viewpoint.
Wake Up really gets exciting as all the various answers begin to converge — the cognitive scientist is saying the same thing as the physicist, who is saying the same thing as the Native American shaman, and so on. Everything is pointing to one consciousness, with the many layers or dimensions, that we are all connected to — what Jonas chose to do with his new found abilities is the mystery at the heart of the film.
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