Dos Equis beer came up with the “Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising campaign in 2006. One has to wonder, then, if they were perhaps thinking of Stewart Brand. After all the man has seemingly done it all. He went from from being a soldier, to running his own magazine, being a pioneer of LSD and working on de-extinction. The documentary We Are As Gods describes him as being a real life Forrest Gump for being in the right place at the right time throughout his life. It takes a deep look into who is is, and why he’s so important to so many of the world’s influential people.
Brand released the first issue of his magazine Whole Earth Catalogue in 1968. There, he wrote the line “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” In a way it defines everything he’s done in his life. His magazine was like a printed version of Google, giving readers a comprehensive look into everything they could possible want to know about books. Readers were also able to look into knowing about maps, clothing, tools, survival gear, professional journals, personal computers and more. For most, publishing such a magazine would be enough to remember them for. But for Brand it was just part of his life.
We Are As Gods uses archive footage and interviews to look closely at who the man is. It shows his experiments with LSD to his time with the Merry Pranksters. It also his campaign to have NASA release the first complete photos of Earth. There’s a reason for doing such a deep dive into Brand’s life is. It’s because the filmmakers can give reason to his current exploits of de-extinction. Brand’s goal is to bring back species who have long left the planet. He wants to bring back species like the wooly mammoth, a feat that has as many critics as there are supporters.
One of the reasons We Are As Gods works so well is that it doesn’t try to paint Brand as a hero for his legacy. They present the facts with as little bias as possible. They highlight his faults as much as they do his successes. And they show why in the end he is only human. The film invites you to debate the topic and come up with your own conclusions. After the film you can think whether Brand’s goal of de-extinction is morally or ethically right or wrong. Whatever the end is for your debate however, you will certainly be able to see why Brand is so fascinating, and why he should be listened to. You’ll feel this way even if you disagree with him.