The Truth Is Out There (2011)
Dean Haglund is best known for playing Richard Langly, one of the Lone Gunmen on The X-Files. In recent years has capitalised upon that role and has become closely identified with the realm of the paranormal and the world of conspiracy theories. The documentary The Truth Is Out There follows Dean as he travels the US and attempts to discover just what it means to search for the truth in a world where conspiracies theories, untruths and fake news abound. The documentary directed by Phil Leirness, humorously takes the viewer on a journey of discovery, talking to those who believe that the world is not what it seems.
It takes a while for The Truth Is Out There to find its feet. The first ten minutes or so focuses on Dean Haglund visiting various conventions and fringe groups. Due to Dean's exuberant personality, it is difficult to initally predict exactly what tone the documentary will take to its subject. However, after a while it becomes very clear that his persona and rapport with those he talks to is an invaluable asset. The scientists, authors, mediums, journalists that he interviews warm to his charm and express themselves in very relaxed way. There is little conflict during their discussions as they’re afforded a great deal of respect and not treated as “nuts”.
Director Phil Leirness has edited together from hours of material, a very fair and measured documentary. In some instances, I felt that possibly too much time was given to certain parties, but that may just be me. Those with a greater interest in this topic may feel that the running time of 141 minutes is too short. My only other complaint was that the accompanying soundtrack was a little too intrusive at times and detracted from what was happening on screen.
As the documentary progresses and the audience meet a wider group of individuals with increasingly complex views of the world, the film cross cuts to Dean in discussion with psychotherapist, Dr. Nicki Monti. I personally found this to be one of the most engaging aspects of the film. By nature, I am sceptical of this facet of contemporary medicine, but on this occasion felt that the observations that were spot one and very pertinent to the discussion. It is also important to point out that Phil Leirness has been very even handed in his treatment of all interviewees. If any of them proceed to shoot themselves and their respective arguments in the foot, it is by their own hands and not his.
The Truth Is Out There potentially appeals to a multitude of demographics. A great deal of this hinges of the charm of Dean Haglund and his amusing and dry quips. There is much food for thought in the ideas and concepts discussed, from Area 51 to the 9/11 conspiracies, as well as our fascination as a society for this sort of material. For the past fifty years, conspiracy theories have become an increasingly popular topic of debate. Whether you consider them genuine or merely the delusional conceits of those ill-equipped to deal with reality, it is a phenomenon that is not going to go away.