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16: Moments

Friday, August 14, 2009 - 08:00 PM

girl smells flowers (William Hoffman)

After hearing our show about moments of death, filmmaker Will Hoffman went out in search of moments of life. What follows is what he found.


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Comments [123]

Raphi Kammer from Hollywood

This was really great. I made me see how many life events are similar and all interconnect.

Feb. 05 2016 06:22 PM
Cabin Rentals BC from canada

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Jun. 25 2012 01:01 AM

I bet Garnet is fun at a party.

Apr. 30 2012 09:56 AM

Its easy to be cynical and grumpy. Don't be embarrassed to be moved by being human and alive.

Aug. 05 2011 06:07 AM

I agree with Garnet about the Regan video and the clichés. The video doesn’t bother me because it seems to exist for the sake of existing- verse for the sake of advertisement or government… but it's not brilliant. This format is a formula; even the utility company used it.

Mar. 27 2011 01:22 AM

I agree with Garnet. He raises some valid points. None of which have been truly adressed

Feb. 20 2011 08:12 PM

GARNET FAILS to see that he himself is only a cliche..and all his time he spends attacking youtube vidoes for becoming "mainstream"...has finally culminated for him with his new post on radiolab...
This video had identified with so many...long before garnet came along and left his shiet stain of a cliche that could have at least included a comment about bieber...

Feb. 13 2011 07:38 AM
Keith T. from my box

it touched me. it made me stop... and think, and appreciate. a simple idea, a good one. beautifully done, with skill, great care. watched several times, i'm more grounded with each.

Thank You

Dec. 30 2010 09:10 AM
Jeff from Chicago

I have to agree with Garnet... since he's definitely not the first person to cry for an authenticity that doesn't exist, he's your cliche troll.

Dec. 17 2010 02:28 PM
Daniel from Western Australia

Also @Garnet:
As Cliched as Cliche's are they are there because they have held merit and stuck through time so although they may be overused they usually still hold true.
Also it is an unfortunate truth that the advertising industry has borrowed/stolen their techniques from artists so please dont give credit to that sector of manipulation. They have only taken tried and true methods to move us (invented by artist) to decieve us.
I did find the film to be very powerful although I would have to admit I did recoil a little at some of the obviously staged shots.

Dec. 08 2010 06:55 PM
Ricky from Houston

@ Garnet:

If anything you're criticizing or comparing the work to Hal Riney the famous ad man that made the campaign for Regan. That was just his style of commercial. Hal Riney is very famous for having his own style as an ad man. Regan identified with the style of Mr. Riney for the vote but that doesn't mean every thing that came after Regan was elected is reflected in the ad.

I agree in that it has a similar spirit of child-like optimism, but I think it stands apart from the work of Mr. Riney. I think the optimism of this is just in reflecting on the idea of "what is a moment'?

In truth, the advertising industry knows how succesful Mr. Riney's style was in capturing peoples attention. He attempted to convey "Americana" for whatever that means in commercial form. As a mark of his success he's been copied endlessly since by other companies.

Sure you could string together a slew of negative moments like someone getting mugged, a homeless kitty crying or the like and put a different soundtrack to it and do some different editing and you might get a message of warning over a message of hope like, "California Uber Alles" instead of "It's morning in America", but that's a different kind of meditation all together .

Theres a really good movie called "Art and Copy" that is about the advertising industry and what makes people like Hal Riney and other advertisers able to capture the worlds attention to sell something (even if it's Ronald Regan..)

Nov. 01 2010 05:20 PM

Wow, Garnet. Get a grip, buddy. It's a 5 minute video. I'm very sorry that you lost sleep over this. Yeah, 'cause we know Radiolab, a completely non-profit endeavor, was tapping into the lowest common denominator to rack in the big bucks a 5 minute indie video always does.

Oct. 19 2010 07:54 AM

Oh life is comprised of cliches!

Oct. 15 2010 02:50 AM
localhost from Europe

This led to my discovering the now defunct band Parachutes. Thanks.

More on them here:

Sep. 05 2010 08:53 AM

The video was beautiful.
Poor Garnet.

Sep. 02 2010 09:43 PM

I slept on it, but I can't get it out of my mind how annoying and cliche I find this video to be, as well as the absurd outpouring of praise in the comments--a desperate cry for authenticity, in an age of falseness and superficiality?

It struck me that all you have to do is put a phone company logo at the end of this video and you have the summation of every long distance advertising campaign since the 1980s.

Or even more, this video is simply like an extended version of Ronald Reagan's famous "Morning in America" campaign ad, from the 1984 presidential election. Check out it out, it follows the same basic concept/conceit:

From the teflon president himself. If that doesn't speak to the falseness and cliche of this video, I don't know what does.

Jul. 21 2010 05:26 AM

I hate to be the only naysayer, but I found almost every "moment" in this video to be a cliche.

Also, it really seemed (based on the production values) like most if not all of the shots were staged, even though they are presented as if the videographer was just walking around catching these shots as they happen. How can these possibly be moments of life if they're staged? Staging something is almost the opposite of a moment, although it certainly fits well with cliche.

And the soaring, cinematic, music only adds to the saccharine quality for me.

I feel confirmed in my conclusions by the fact that all one hudred and twenty-four of the preceding comments are effusively positive. You can't get that many people to so thoroughly agree unless you've really tapped into the lowest common denominator.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Radiolab, by sometimes you really do have a tendency to gravitate towards the cliche and sentimental, as if it's profound.

Anyway, didn't the 1982 movie "Koyaanisqatsi" already do something like this in a much more true, beautiful, and honest way?

Jul. 20 2010 05:19 AM


Apr. 15 2010 12:08 PM

Beautiful -- I fell upon this through my ipod. I've already watched it a dozen times and shared with all my closest friends. And makes me feel so connected to the world. Thank you!

Apr. 01 2010 01:05 AM

A tear literally dropped from my eye and hit my hand the second before the shot of a tear dropping.

Feb. 22 2010 10:38 AM

Absolutely amazing. Thankyou

Jan. 13 2010 06:23 PM

I have tears

Jan. 06 2010 12:04 AM

That was so strangely moving, but very, very moving.

Dec. 29 2009 02:37 PM

Very beautiful, very rich. And it bears repeated watching-- you see things (images and connections between them) that you missed the first time.

Thank you Will Hoffman and thank you RadioLab.

Nov. 13 2009 03:09 PM

that was some of the most powerful few minutes of video I've ever seen.

Oct. 25 2009 09:19 PM

Its like a Pablo Neruda poem. All the little bits of life that feel so mundane when strung through the days look like small miracles when shown this way. A moment are those glimpses at perfection we all get if we're willing to see. Will Hoffman really understands simple beauty. Thank you so much for sharing.

Oct. 22 2009 03:06 PM

l o v e t h i s

Oct. 16 2009 05:59 PM

I needed to see this this morning. Questioning why I was here at work, at my desk, in my cube, what was my purpose-and found that after this tiny glimmer of a video my eyes were opened to the simple fact that EVERY SINGLE MOMENT leads to another moment, and another, thus creating LIFE. Life is a moment, life is many moments. In our little fishbowl world, we create our moment. We define how these moments mean to us.

This is absolutely beautiful.

Sep. 28 2009 09:08 AM
dana haim

I absolutely adored and fell in love with this video. It represents everything I love about being an artist. Truly inspiring, really. Please keep them coming.

Sep. 17 2009 02:23 PM

that was beautiful

Sep. 12 2009 04:37 PM
nan mc

Wonderful piece, and what's more, from the perspective of an editor it's almost flawless. Jenny, above, said "each one of these moments was itself a whole story," which of course is what every frame in any film is, with more frames strung together to tell the bigger story.

That's what you did so well. Congrats, and thanks thanks thanks. :)

Sep. 05 2009 05:31 AM

Beautiful, well done

Sep. 04 2009 04:31 PM
Troy and Heidi

I heart this video. We deal with moments everyday in the career we've chosen. If this doesn't summarize the big picture I can't imagine what would. I nearly loose it everytime that balloon flies. Cheers, Wil, Thank You!

Sep. 01 2009 07:37 PM
Dave Runta

Aug. 31 2009 08:27 PM

All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.

Aug. 31 2009 05:54 PM
Jenny O'Brien

I loved this video because each one of these moments was itself a whole story, told in 2 or 3 seconds, stories we all know-Hey, that could have been me missing the bus!

Aug. 31 2009 05:39 PM

I absolutely loved David Eagleman's book "Sum", and this film is such a lovely way to transform the spirit of that love-of-moments into a visual medium. Bravo! I think Sum is my favourite book of the last 5 years, and this Moments video is my favourite YouTube video ever.

Aug. 31 2009 12:58 PM

wow o wow that was just terrific. wonderful. thank you.

Aug. 29 2009 03:45 PM



Aug. 29 2009 11:01 AM

loved the Will Hoffman film "Moments", and I especially loved the music ("Where were you?" by PARACHUTES), but I can't find it ANYWHERE!!! Does anyone know where to buy this song?

Aug. 28 2009 04:38 PM

Struggling to find meaning in a life that felt so empty. Thank you for showing me how rich and full of glorious moments my life really is. Really.

Aug. 27 2009 10:10 PM
Bob Jaben

Hey, Radiolab has gone viral! #7 on
Viral sharing of this video: Spreading across the interweb like Wildfire!

Aug. 27 2009 09:10 AM

This work is fantastic !!!
On my Iphone I have shared this with much of my family. Very good work!!!

Aug. 26 2009 09:36 PM

This and the story "Sum" are changing the way I see the world. Life is a series of moments, some good, some amazing, some boring, some exciting, most ordinary. But now ordinary does not seem bad. Rather than "living in the moment" I find I am seeing the ordinary moments, and even the unpleasant moments, as just parts of a long wonderful story. Thank you!

Aug. 25 2009 11:46 AM
Lulu Bee

This film is very reminiscent of that phenomenal last episode of 6ft under.

Thanks again, Radio Lab!

Aug. 25 2009 11:19 AM
Lulu Bee


A moment is "us" flanked between and squished next too other "things."

It is only defined because it exists to help the next moment arrive.

Aug. 25 2009 10:28 AM

I especially love the waking up moment and the doo-doo on the sidewalk. Life IS beautiful, every single one of those moments in our day can twist and turn your trajectory. Thanks! This moment made my day better.

Aug. 24 2009 07:26 PM
Sean Moran

Makes one want to stop and enjoy more moments in their lives....which in itself is a moment to enjoy.

Also: was kinda like your life flashing before you at death.

Interesting and emotional short. Thanks, Will.

Aug. 24 2009 04:40 PM
Valentin Siderskiy

Love it...Love Radio Lab...Cant find any other place that makes me so intellectually excited and laugh.

Aug. 24 2009 03:29 PM

How come we ALL know these moments... What a beautifully simple world, when you distill it down to this.

Aug. 23 2009 12:15 PM

That was awesome!

Aug. 23 2009 02:22 AM
Matt Stevenson

Brilliant photography. So intimate. Great work, Julius. And great direction, Will.

Aug. 22 2009 01:41 PM

Really good work.

Aug. 22 2009 09:25 AM
Chris Riley

I thought long and hard for a complement that would be as simple as this video and yet still express what great work it is. The best I can do, and I mean it sincerely:


Aug. 21 2009 08:58 PM
David Hollis


Love that this is radio/video and vice versa.


Aug. 21 2009 02:08 PM
Vivien Young

In UK, on a train between Manchester and Edinburgh listening to Radio Lab downloads on Iphone.... and played this first with eyes closed not realising it was a video. It still worked! Then as a video, simply beautiful! Thank you!!! Now late at night in a bed in my mother's house before I sleep...

Aug. 21 2009 05:43 AM
Matt Duffy

Stunning. I didn't expect this to be so good. It made me cry. Excellent work.

Aug. 20 2009 04:38 PM

I love the photography! Julius did a really good job. Exceptionally well done piece. Yess!

Aug. 20 2009 04:07 PM

Aug. 20 2009 03:26 PM
Andrew in Seattle

nice. Those Icelandic bands sure know how to make emotional music.

Aug. 20 2009 02:52 PM
Ange Britton

What a wonderful way to greet the day!'How powerful. . .how prayerful.
Thank you.
Thank you, my sister, who take time to send it my way.

Aug. 20 2009 08:01 AM
Chad Jordahl

Thank you.

Aug. 20 2009 01:15 AM
Tod Buis

I agree with the miles of praise before me; genuine ideas seem to become their own art projects somehow... I even agree with one reader who suggested it might have included some "violence" as well, but the dog-fudge seemed to work well towards that end. I especially appreciate the notion that each of these moments laid end to end, no matter how severe or blissful, becomes still another moment when viewed at last from the director's chair... as (if?) we gradually remove ourselves from each moment, our response flattens out somewhat until we might just simply smile at the thought of some triumph or injustice. I was initially thinking this would have been a piece I would have loved to have shown my grandmother, and then I realized she had already seen it...

Aug. 20 2009 01:09 AM

I am someone who believe you just have to look around you to find your happiness--this short illustrates my feelings so well. I got goosebumps. Thank you.

Aug. 19 2009 08:45 PM
jamaa fanaka

'Moments" was one of the most inspiring and original works of art that it has been my pleasure to experience on the Internet. I'll never forget the step into the dog do do. I think we've all had that unfortunate "moment." The cinematography was first rate. Keep up the good work.___Jamaa Fanaka

Aug. 19 2009 08:43 PM

beautifully shot.The continuation of shots was nice,how simular sequences followed another.Great closeups and soundtrack.I liked the ending.10+

Aug. 19 2009 08:24 PM
Morris Carr

fast-paced everyman, everyday. Brilliantly photographed. Excitement in everyday life is beautiful. It's honestly amazing if we take the time to stop, look and listen. Keep up the good work. I have watched it over and over and everytime enjoy it's freshness and richness even more.

Aug. 19 2009 07:15 PM
Burhan Gharaibeh

What an excellent show! very classy, rich and pleasant. I agree with another comment above that I would pay to see something like this and not the almost all totally predictable junk out there.

Aug. 19 2009 04:13 PM
Ryan Booth

what a great piece... it makes you feel connected and what more could you ask than that?

Aug. 19 2009 03:28 PM
Kurt Baker

Don't stop now,your in

Aug. 19 2009 03:01 PM

Wow-my breath caught in my throat, incredibly moving piece.

Aug. 19 2009 01:26 PM

wonderful. that's all i have.

Aug. 19 2009 11:29 AM

just beautiful

Aug. 19 2009 10:43 AM
Derek O

I was completely taken by surprise with this short film. It amazes me how you can take a series of completely unrelated events filled with complete strangers and leave me with tears in my eyes. Thank you, Will and Julius, for creating this. Thank you, Radiolab, for sharing it with the world.

Aug. 19 2009 08:19 AM

That is so beautiful!!! It touches your heart!
Thank You!!!!!

Aug. 19 2009 01:04 AM

I was sitting down to watch this without listening to the previous discussions of death. I was unsure as to what I was watching. And about 3/4 of the way through, I found myself crying and truly not knowing why. I now know why, and it's simply complex.

This is just utterly beautiful. The juxtaposition of clips is a masterpiece. The music is a perfect compliment. Truly one of the greatest visual art pieces I have ever seen and will receive MANY repeats.

Bravo Mr. Hoffman and thank you RadioLab!

Aug. 19 2009 12:02 AM
kenny johnson

Beautiful... laughter... tears... smile.

Aug. 18 2009 10:25 PM
Marie Avelange

Beautifully done! A poet, a philosopher and a movie magician! You have it, keep going!

Aug. 18 2009 10:08 PM

this is fantastic. i'm glad to see that the small moments in our lives are being given such tremendous value in this film. sometimes we forget how wonderful life can be. thanks guys for doing what you do, you are definitely fulfilling your purpose on this planet and touching many lives in the process.

Aug. 18 2009 08:58 PM
Rayna Hickman

many thanks for the reminder
and nice to see you running after the birds

Aug. 18 2009 07:13 PM
Kim R


Aug. 18 2009 05:28 PM

I am going to watch this every morning to remind myself that even the most mundane moments should be treasured.

Aug. 18 2009 04:44 PM
Corey Fischer

IT's all been said in previous posts but I can't resist joining this standing ovation with tears in my eyes. Every film student, aspiring writer, artist, creator in any medium should see this and study it. It *does* get even better with repeated viewing. In around 4 minutes William brings us a Blakeian universe in which the human becomes sacred. Imminence. Radio Lab is why God made public radio!

Aug. 18 2009 04:16 PM

Wow, this is absolutely gorgeous, brilliant and brought tears to my eyes. This is just another reason I love this show. Please keep at it, Jad and Robert. Congratulations on your own new child, Jad!

Aug. 18 2009 02:18 PM

This i brilliant, William. I always new you would make something great:) Greetings from your old nanny Lise from Norway:)

Aug. 18 2009 08:27 AM

This is spectacular. Transcendent. RadioLab does a great job creating an experience.

Aug. 17 2009 11:36 PM
Tim Christian

I'm having trouble finding the music. The website referenced has no mention (that I can see) of parachutes, and a Google search comes up short.

Aug. 17 2009 10:51 PM

What if Radio Lab were a movie?

Aug. 17 2009 10:30 PM
rob bronstein

It gets better every time I watch it

Aug. 17 2009 08:36 PM

Didn't expect this short to be a tear-jerker! Moving.

Aug. 17 2009 08:03 PM

When asked “What do you do” most of us respond by describing our work. Yet (almost) no cubicles were filmed in the making of this video.

Aug. 17 2009 05:17 PM

from "on the road" by kerouac: "It had something to do with the Shrouded Traveler. Carlo Marx and I once sat down together, knee to knee, in two chairs, facing, and I told him a dream I had about a strange Arabian figure that was pursuing me across the desert; that I tried to avoid; that finally overtook me just before I reached the Protective City. 'Who is this?' said Carlo. We pondered it. I proposed it was myself, wearing a shroud. That wasn't it. Something, someone, some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. That one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo some sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death."

Aug. 17 2009 04:12 PM
barbara salkin

HI Will Loved it!!!! It is very life affirming and so beautifully done A wonderful contribution Aunt Barbara

Aug. 17 2009 03:58 PM
Angelia Pitman

What a wonderful encapsulated look at life. If there are other civilizations out in the universe, this is what I hope they see of us -- the small moments, the human moments, the smiles and tears and breathless moments.

Aug. 17 2009 11:04 AM

Wonderful. Thank you Radiolab!

Aug. 17 2009 09:25 AM

great stuff. i was moved that those moments.

Aug. 17 2009 08:01 AM


Aug. 17 2009 04:50 AM

So beautiful, so poignant. Probably should include some moments of violence, too, but that would be hard to watch, and we see more than enough violent moments in the movies.

Aug. 16 2009 11:30 PM

Very refreshing, creative and deep reaching.
It took this moment to make me reflect on my own moments.
Thanks Willie !!!!!!!

Aug. 16 2009 07:22 PM
Keith Norris

Wow, having recently lost a special someone, just as she was entering her "stride" at 23, makes this all the more poignant. Savor each and every moment.

Aug. 16 2009 01:29 PM

Phenomenal!!! This video is awesome!

Aug. 16 2009 01:28 PM

Great moments of life!

Aug. 16 2009 01:27 PM
Bonnie Brantley

Wonderful piece. Wonder-full.

Aug. 16 2009 10:51 AM


Aug. 16 2009 10:37 AM
Jason Sims

Beautiful. Epitomizes the G.K. Chesterton quote "Don't look a gift universe in the mouth."

Aug. 16 2009 10:02 AM
Mitra Woods

sleep/music: What I have found (cello/classical) is that with sleep after practicing, my mind sorts out and discards the mistakes - a blessing. Apparently, the logic of the finished piece is so compelling that it can overcome my ineptitudes.
sleep/elderly: I've lost the mechanism needed to readily fall asleep at night - very puzzling. I'm now 70, and this has been an issue for perhaps 10 years. It is said the elderly "just don't need as much sleep", but I think that this is a cop-out for a very big problem.

Aug. 16 2009 03:23 AM

So beautiful. Thank you!

Aug. 15 2009 09:53 PM
Michelle Lipinski

Wow, that was amazing. Like I didn't already feel great about being pregnant. Thanks Will Hoffman.

Aug. 15 2009 09:30 PM
Norm Johnson

The magic for me was in the last shot: that some "moments" can be extended ... perhaps indefinitely.

Aug. 15 2009 09:21 PM
Janet K. Martin

That was wonderful! Thank you.

Aug. 15 2009 08:52 PM
Tim Christian

Unbelievable. I could watch 2 hours of this, and I'm sure he could come up with 2 hours of it.

Aug. 15 2009 07:36 PM

radio lab, i'm so thankful for you. something about this video and just the fact that you exist and do what you do has really really touched me today. thank you very much, radio lab and will hoffman.

Aug. 15 2009 06:48 PM

lovely - well done.

Aug. 15 2009 06:02 PM

Beautiful video, it's amazing how much can be conveyed in little snippets of life we can all relate to...

Aug. 15 2009 04:43 PM
Louis LaDuff

Great style, Great beauty,
excellent work...We need to see more!

Aug. 15 2009 08:47 AM

utterly beautiful! you've captured us all

Aug. 15 2009 06:19 AM

Really impressive, thank you very much!

Aug. 15 2009 05:32 AM

Very nice :)

Aug. 15 2009 01:46 AM

This is fantastic work!

Aug. 15 2009 01:11 AM
Jerry Feist

Beautiful. Thank you Will Hoffman.

Aug. 14 2009 11:03 PM

Are you kidding me!? This is amazing!

Aug. 14 2009 10:56 PM

Our regular, every day lives are so beautiful if we see them this way. Inspiring!

Aug. 14 2009 10:22 PM

Absolutely brilliant is what I say. Absolutely brilliant.

I'd pay money to see that rather than some testosterone-filled action movie.

Just plain brilliant.

Aug. 14 2009 08:21 PM

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