Trailer Talk: ‘The Nature of Existence’


This is The Big Life Irony. We try really hard for years to better ourselves, to advance, to be happy, to become financially stable, to be physically fit … and where does it get us?

Why do we go through all the challenges, hardships, disappointments, calamities, heartbreaks and disappointments to only end up shriveled, bent-up, rocking chair place-markers? What’s the purpose of it all?

It’s not fair that humans aren’t privy to the big answers.

The trailer on “The Nature of Existence” shows Roger Nygard, the writer, director and talent with a friendly voice, interview a series of learned people on these life questions.


Why do we exist?
What is our purpose?
How can we improve humanity?
What is the best advice or philosophy for living?

What is the point of everything?

At some point our life voyage begins to devolve into a gradual but firm degeneration. Our brains, our skin, our bones, our attractiveness… at some point all fall apart into the abyss that ends in death. So the irony is that after all of our life’s efforts, instead of being rewarded, we end up losing everything that we had been working for.

Let me be quite candid with you. I’m indignant about the entire set-up. I am mad at God.


Why is there suffering?
What is best path to happiness?
Does God intercede in human tragedies?

First of all, let me tell you how it should be, at the minimum. There should be a sacred book that is written for the living. In it should be all the answers – not in parables, poetry or mythological analogies – just a book of straightforward answers to all the important questions on life.

Not knowing the answers to the most important life questions is like being forced to play a seemingly complicated board game for which you were given no rules. What’s fun about that?

Is there some kind of alien sabotage going on here?

Into this chasm of frustration and brooding paranoid victimization, Roger Nygard dares to tread. For his documentary, “The Nature of Existence,” he travels the world asking a series of people the 85 most pressing life questions from 18 pressing categories.


What is truth?
How do we determine truth?
Which truth is right?

“This documentary is my attempt to find meaning in chaos,” declares the good-natured Nygard. His friendly, modestly curious questioning is our voice, over and over, asking questions we deserve to have answered.


Does prayer work?
If so, why does God allow holocausts, and disasters?
If not, why pray?

Nygard questions people of different religions, nationalities and sexual orientation. Old people, young adults, hipsters and conservatives. Oxford professors are saved for a particularly hot grilling.

But Nygard also has a sense of humor and the entire film is a delight as we sojourn with him throughout the world to ask those questions with the elusive answers.


Will there be a doomsday?
What is the greatest danger facing man’s existence?
How do we stop conflict?
Should different cultures be preserved, or are our cultural differences the source of strife?

One More Category

But here is a last set of questions Nygard didn’t ask. Let’s say there was an answer key. Answers that were absolutely true.


If there was a compendium of all the true answers, would it matter?
Would we live our lives any differently?
Would everyone argue over how to interpret this set of answers?

Bottom Line

The bottom line on this trailer is that it presages a well-produced, serious yet light-hearted film to watch. It has won documentary awards at film festivals, including best feature doc. at Docufest Atlanta. My guess is that we will find ourselves quite engaged with each respondent as s/he tries to answer Nygard’s questions. It is scheduled for release June 18.

* Samples of Nygard’s 18 categories with selected questions taken from

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6 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. bev #

    This is Jake:
    Well this seems like an interesting documentary to say the least. The criticism that was adressed (or the questions that were asked) seemed legitimate for the most part. However I would have to propose a different theory at suffering. People don’t grow when they are given a book of answers, for these answers that should be their life become squandered as trivial facts. A person must find their own meaning of life in order to it to have… well meaning. If we had a book of answers telling us this is the way things were than we would in essence be destroying any single person’s chance at achieving self peace. Because in this scenario there could only be one possible perfect self.

  2. bev #

    This is Kendall:

    The concept of a book of answers doesn’t appeal to me, mainly for the reason of I don’t like to think that life is only a bunch of questions. Sure, questions are asked, but for the most part, aren’t most of them answered already? Granted, some questions just don’t have an answer easily accessible in your lifetime, but that doesn’t mean just go find those answers just to know them. I like to think that life’s great adventure is looking for the answers, not nessecarily just finding them.

  3. Emily #

    Sounds like an interesting flick.

  4. Bev #

    Well Jake and Kendall, it seems there are some honest attempts to answer all these frustrating questions, but the film seems to revert to a lot of humor. Maybe Nygard got a nice tax write-off to travel around the world asking people these things. Get a film idea yourselves for an all-paid trip around the world.

  5. rob #

    Wow; I’ve come to expect that, occasionally, a film comes along that raises big and/or important issues but this one raises some of the most profound questions I can remember rolled into a single film. I’m extremely interested in seeing this.

  6. Patty #

    I loved the tagline: “Every mystery of human existence explained in one movie.” It accurately sums up the movie, right? Really, all the answers . . . what a lot of crap – but i’m liking the sense of humor so will watch it as an enjoyable way to ponder the big questions.

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