Picks and Pans Main: Video

updated 03/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST


In this antistress tape, MacLaine seems to be aiming for a relaxation so total that the true follower's eyebrows will fall off. She may succeed—with viewers who get tired of trying to figure out if she's making any sense—by inspiring surprise snoozes. MacLaineophiles may be disappointed, though, that the 70-minute tape does not include a reference to any of her former lives or any of her famous chats with dead people. The somber workout is instead devoted to the "chakra system," a speculative set of notions whose validity she establishes by noting that it is "Asian." That origin, giving the chakra system something in common with, say, the Iran-Iraq war, Cambodian genocide and Indian poverty, may not overwhelm everyone, but MacLaine espouses the idea without further qualification. It has to do with seven chakras lurking within everyone's body—the brow chakra, the solar plexus chakra, et al. Each is a particular color and is associated with a musical note, though she doesn't explain why the sexual-creative chakra, for instance, is orange and "resonates" to the note D rather than being fuchsia and resonating to the tune of "Honky Tonk Women." After an introduction, MacLaine settles herself into a cross-legged meditating position, wearing a peach-colored sweatsuit. (Peach is not a color in the system, but it contrasts nicely with her hair chakra.) While the video image churns with pretty kaleidoscopic forms, MacLaine issues such droning pronouncements as, "There is nothing to be afraid of from people or from the earth." She advises viewers to focus on the sexual chakra: "Any sexual trauma you might have had—wash it away with this orange." She finally goes into closed-eye meditation (she went into the previous routine with her eyes wide open) and tries to imagine herself in a glade in a magical forest next to, what else, "a babbling brook." This finale is built around the question, "Why can't I love more?" The obvious answer—that life is cluttered with too many pains in the chakra to leave enough room for love—does not even come up. (Vestron, $29.98; 203-978-5568)


"You are holding in your hand a videotape that can change your life, that can make it happier, more fulfilling, more wonderful than you could have ever imagined." With that lofty promise on this tape's slipcover, we are ready to meet Norman Vincent Peale, the huckster emeritus of happiness, who is first seen strolling across his 200-acre Pawling, N.Y., farm shown in all its autumnal splendor. Lush and peaceful, it is just the setting to induce positive thoughts. Based on his megabook of the same title, the video contains Peale's homespun homilies, measured out in chapters bearing such titles as "How to Create Your Own Happiness" ("positive thinkers are happy people because they have overcome negativism") and "How to Break the Worry Habit" ("Fill your mind full of faith; fear and worry can't get into your head"). Through it all, Peale, 90, discourses with the bland self-assurance of a man selling cornflakes. Once, he reports, he asked his old friend the actress Hattie McDaniel, "a woman from down South," to reveal her secret of happiness. Said Hattie: "No matter what the weather is...I go out of the house in the morning, and I just throw my hands up and I say, 'Hellloooo there, good morning!' " Peale's chapters conclude with moral instructions: "Do the thing you fear, and death of fear is certain." Music swells, and up the screen scroll a few of Peale's commandments, such as, "To become a happy person, have a clean soul, eyes that see romance in the commonplace, a child's heart and spiritual simplicity." It has worked for Peale, who appears to have prospered mightily from his polished way with platitudes. If you buy this 60-minute tape, he will be thinking more positively than ever. (Karl-Lorimar, $29.95; 800-345-1441)

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