The Raft | Chicago Reader

The Raft

“This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped . . .” Before there was The Real World, before there was Survivor, there was a 1973 social experiment in which five men and six women boarded a small raft for 101 days on the Atlantic Ocean—all on camera, a reality show before reality shows. The experiment was conducted by anthropologist Santiago Genovés to study violence and sexuality. Genovés was also on board to interview his subjects—or, rather, provoke conflict. Relationships and disagreements quickly unfolded. Forty-six years later, the rafters reunite in Marcus Lindeen’s documentary The Raft. The film explores the experiment in a unique way: interviews with surviving rafters on a reconstructed version of the original raft combined with a voice-over reading entries from Genovés’s diary of the trip. The documentary never fully digs into the psyche of the participants or takes the viewer beyond the screen and onto the raft. However, The Raft remains a fascinating look into human relationships that’s even more relevant in the wave of sensationalized television.

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