Monday, June 05, 2006

Truth, in any event

I think I posted about my dreams in anticipation of having nightmares after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth," which I was warned was a frightening film. And it is about the kind of thing that really terrifies me: the uncontrollable loss and destruction of the earth.

But I slept well. Not that the global warming issue isn't scary, or that I don't think it's one of the most important issues of our time, or that I didn't find some of the film's facts disturbing, but it didn't result in nightmares.

Don't get me wrong, I found Gore's presentation of the facts very compelling. And yet, that's what it amounted to: a presentation, a few technological steps above a standard powerpoint, filled with graphs and charts to illustrate the numbers behind the issue. I get that he can't go everywhere, and that by filming the same presentation he's made in selected cities expands his reach by many multiples, but I almost think that a simple taped version of the speech would have done the job. Or maybe, to break it up, have him out there interviewing some of the scientific experts who have contributed to the facts he shares. Instead of describing a conversation with a team who drills into the ice and tracks the carbon dioxide history of its various layers, interview the guy on camera! Give us another voice, beyond that of Al Gore, to impart some wisdom on the issue.

But nobody else is in the movie. Instead, we are treated to long lingering shots of Gore staring out of various windows (cars, trains, planes, offices, hotel rooms) while his voiceover shares his thoughts with us. Is that really necessary? Do we need to see the man thinking about this? But worse than those maudlin interludes are the brief glimpses we get of Gore's life, meant to illustrate his - commitment to this issue? his dedication to politics? his humanity? I'm not sure, but I don't think that still black and white shots of a generic hospital corridor while Gore remembers the near-death of his young son, or generic photographs of tobacco fields while he shares his grief over the death of his sister from cancer, do anything but make me think I wandered into the wrong movie. I felt like I was being played, and found myself rolling my eyes every time we left the presentation proper and one of those sappy asides started. What is the point? Only those who have felt that kind of sadness or despair can fully appreciate the environmental mess we've gotten ourselves into? Do you have to have a sister die of cancer to realize smoking kills?

Okay, there was one flashback which actually did bring me to tears. It was a recounting of the 2000 election, and although it was also just a series of familiar images with a voiceover, seeing it again, remembering again, made me really sad. Remember when we thought that we'd actually elected the man who would be President?

So I guess I'm a hardhearted bitch for preferring a straightforward educational film not burdened by melodramatic backstory, but I still am going to recommend it to everyone I know. It gives very clear and concise facts about global warming, and doesn't shy away from offering solutions and suggestions, including things each individual can do. And there is some terrifying footage - watch a map of lower Manhattan disappear under floodwater and see the office building in which I work as one of the first victims to the rising seas.


Blogger Pynchon said...

I've not seen the film, and I have no idea if it will be shown in the UK at all, but it does look like an early bid for his party's nomination next time, doesn't it?

I'm hope that he is sincere. I don't know.

2:21 AM  
Blogger medusa said...

I don't know - he comes across as someone who tried to make a change through politics, wasn't able to get his message across (they show footage of congressional hearings about global warming back in the 70's or 80's, when he was pretty much ridiculed), so he's made it his own personal crusade to get the word out via lectures and the film. Sadly, I don't know if the global warming platform would be enough to ensure him a victory - we have a lot of right-wingers who think anything to do with the environment is hogwash and not as important as beefing up the military and cutting rich people's taxes and putting prayer back in schools. But of course, when the planet disappears into a massive flood, wars and bank accounts and religious differences won't matter, will they?

12:31 PM  

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