Posted: 05/24/2006

 

An Inconvenient Truth

(2006)

by Dianne Lawrence



See the official website here.


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I’m certain when you heard a documentary had been made about Al Gore’s lectures on climate change and global warming, your first reaction was a small guilty groan. “I know I’m supposed to see it but… ooohh I wanna see X-men instead!” If this is what you are still thinking then knock it off and get yourself to the theater asap. You WON’T regret it.

An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Davis Guggenheim and produced by Laurie David, Lawrence Bender and Scott Z. Burns is based on over 1000 slide show lectures on the environment and global warming that Al Gore has been presenting around the world since the election was stolen from him. It is beautiful, profound, disturbing and convincing but most importantly, simply great storytelling. One almost begins to suspect there might actually have been some Divine Intervention around the elections. I know that Bush thinks so…but the reasons for it may be far from Bush’s understanding. The Earth is in dire need of influential spokespeople right now and Al seems to have been perfectly placed to become one of its most powerful champions. After the record number of natural disasters in 2005, this film has not come a moment too soon.

His father was a Senator so as a child Al spent most of each year in a small hotel apartment in Washington while the rest of the year was spent living an idyllic life in the country at the family’s tobacco and cattle farm. (His father gave the tobacco growing business up when Al’s sister died of lung cancer) Helping out on the farm, swimming in the river, lazing in the grass gave Al a lifelong relationship with and love of nature. During his time at Harvard he came under the spell of professor Roger Revelle, a consummate scientist who was amassing the hard data to prove the earth was heating up and it wasn’t slowing down. The impeccable evidence was a revelation and alarming. Al was hooked and continued to research and bring awareness to the issues throughout his political service. The near death accident of his son gave Al the added emotional incentive for a need to protect the vulnerable innocent.

Al effectively uses graphs, cartoons, pictures, amazing graphics to spell out clearly and irrefutably what is happening to the earth and subsequently what is happening and will happen to us should we keep trudging down this blind apathetic path. (Out of all the nations America is responsible for 30% of the pollution spewing into the thin, delicate protection called the atmosphere. That’s you folks!) He understands he cannot be the wild eyed prophet of doom and his tone is calm, humorous and full of heart. We leave the theater not with a sense of guilty doom but energized to stay aware and active.

From the opening shot we are pulled into an emotional connection as we watch a lazy river and listen to Al’s soothing calm voice remind us of what we feel when we stop and let ourselves be surrounded by nature’s sites and sounds. This emotional connection continues throughout the film. We gasp at pictures illustrating the almost complete disappearance of famous glaciers ALL over the world. Whole forests in Alaska have been eaten by a tree infesting beetle that has multiplied because of changing weather patterns. One of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Chad near Darfur, has all but dried up. There is a clear presentation of information about the shockingly rapid melting of ice caps and what it means to our changing shorelines. The last fifteen years have seen the hottest temperatures on record, with 2005 and its record number of natural disasters around the world, being the worst. He knows there are still a small handful who continue to refute the data but Al dispatches them with information and memo’s revealing the effort to keep people doubting the facts. There is still too much oil in the ground for those in charge to worry about the disastrous consequences of its continued use. What do they care? They will be dead before it all crashes down around us and what a life of riches are to be had in the meantime! So the doubters say we have weather patterns that go up and down, it’s a natural occurrence. But Al’s chart, showing the recent spike in temperature, has the current world temperature graph-line hovering above any previously identified temperature average and literally ascending off the board in the near future as he takes a mechanical lift to reach the top of it. There has been nothing like it in the history of the planet.

In one of the funnier moments, Al shows a graphic used by the government to support the idea that profit must have equal value to concerns about the planet. It’s a scale with gold bricks on one side and the earth on the other. Both in balance. Al is hilarious as he acknowledges that gold is very nice, hmm… yesm we like gold. Then he turns to contemplate the earth and looks genuinely puzzled. Earth… or… gold? Hmmm… which to pick? We laugh as we understand that there are people who don’t hesitate to go for the gold, let alone bother contemplating which has more value. But then the real Al breaks through to remind us that without a healthy planet…there will be no one to worry about gold. He quickly dispatches the fallacy that being concerned about the planet means losing profits. We are made aware that being focused on the profits will mean losing the planet.

Many are talking about this film as the beginning of a campaign to return Al to the presidential fold. His long history of commitment to the environmental issue and the 1000 or so lectures he has given indicate he is clearly fulfilling a natural born mission and purpose that at this point in history may be as, if not more, important than the presidency. Yet one can’t help but leave the theater without imagining what it would be like to have a president that is sane, highly intelligent, clear thinking, ethical, beautifully spoken and focused, who can talk passionately and articulately without cue cards. Someone who gives you the confident feeling that he is perfectly suited to deal with possibly the number one concern of our time. An issue that continues to be dismissed by the current administration despite the clear and serious threat it contains. I find it darkly amusing that our currrent Commander in Chief has decided not to view a movie called “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Dianne Lawrence is a film critic and artist living in Los Angeles. You can check out her artistic work here.



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