10 years later, ‘Journey of the Universe’ film more relevant, urgent than ever

By Brian Roewe
April 9, 2021

Ten years ago, evolutionary cosmologist Brian Swimme took television viewers on a daylong journey to the tiny Greek isle of Samos to tell the nearly 14-billion-year tale of a vast, unfolding universe, from clouds of space dust into the creation of stars, galaxies, planets and ultimately life and human existence on Earth.

“What if the universe itself has its own unique story to tell, one in which we play a profound role?” the host asks in the opening of the film “Journey of the Universe.”

Since its debut in June 2011 on PBS station KQED in San Francisco, the hourlong documentary has won an Emmy, been translated into at least four languages and been screened on every continent.

“Journey” draws on teachings of scholars like Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry, the self-described “geologian” who collaborated for years with Swimme and the film's producers — the husband-and-wife team of John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-founders of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology — in developing a deeper understanding of an ever-expanding universe and humanity's role in the Great Work to address current ecological crises and usher in a more sustainable era.

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