Largely narration over roughly edited footage, Caravan/Prague Advertises itself as "The Uneasy Road to Change - A first hand account of a 500 mile bicycle ride across Europe to protest the IMF and World Bank." In the mission of being a first hand account, it succeeds very well. The rough handheld and often times unguided video does an outstanding job of replicating in the viewer, what this writer recognizes as the unguided, often confused and uninformed sense that a protester has about the overall activities surrounding them. The sad part is that the film fails utterly to illuminate the cause necessitating the protest. The film does not claim to be a documentary of the cause, so perhaps it is unfair to expect it, but I felt somehow left out of the message and reson d'etre of the movement much less the film.
So what are the successes? As stated above Caravan succeeds exquisitely in establishing the sense of being lost inside the beast. Never certain exactly what is happening on this journey without money and without leadership. We derive a good sense of the lengthy days in the saddle and the rhythm of the act of riding. We experience the sense of a beast foraging as it goes along, the group having forsaken any money, it harvests food from supermarket dumpsters.
We feel the confusion of the beast. It is our experience that most utopian efforts suffer from a lack of core leadership, after all, governance is a large part of their problem with the establishment, and thus anarchy reigns within. This is treated very effectively by Winestein as he highlights the endless discussions and meetings that make decisions to turn the Caravan's Peloton right or left. Literally days elapse in efforts to decide upon co-operating with the "antichrist" authorities or to revolt in the face of border crossings. This lack of direction is best summed up by the film maker himself when he states, "For three weeks I tried to live in a way that matched my ideals. I'd rarely been happier. I've never been more stressed."
Another success is the film maker's portrayal of the protestors as victims at the hands of the technologic warmongering authorities. The Autocratic obstacles placed in the Caravan's way by authorities, the apparently random arrests, and the liberal use of tear gas on the crowd, have us steadfastly identifying with the protestors' position, whatever that is against the IMF, Bankers, Police and The Military Industrial Complex. But, we still don' know why. Even the banners of the protestors seem to lack focus or message, although their veracity is never in question. The film also captures the one element that offers some cohesion to the group, their chanting and their music. Barring any other directions, the crowd does rally around the sounds of the crowd, perhaps that is enough, after all they did succeed in shutting down the meetings.
Simply put this is an excellent illustration of the apparent innocence of a huge group of people coming together to ride bicycles, in an unorganized fashion, a long way, against establishment wishes and obstacles, in order to inconvenience and interrupt a world money meeting. I still just wish the film might have mentioned why.