May 11, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth (Guggenheim, 2006)

Let me establish something right off the bat, I am not an environmentalist. In fact, I wouldn't consider myself anything even close to an environmentalist. I've never really gotten on the recycling bandwagon, I probably use more electricity than I need to, I haven't ever given thought to buying a hybrid, and die-hard environmentalists have always pissed me off for some reason. That being said, An Inconvenient Truth really affected me. Guggenheim's film, essentially a document of Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation on Global Warming, is a startling work, and in many ways, could be considered a horror film. In a short 90 minutes, Gore presents the "facts" on Global Warming. Utilizing graphs and more effectively, pictures, Gore shows how the temperatures worldwide have risen drastically in the past hundred years, how the oceans are slowly heating up, how the major bodies of ice are slowly melting at an ever increasing rate. He also devotes a section of his presentation on answering the critics of Global Warming. Fortunately, Gore proves to be a far less wooden personality than he has been in the past. He injects the proceedings with a small dose of humor, and you can sense a true passion in his voice.

I don't know if every fact in this film is true. I don't know if Gore has manipulated the data to some extent to support his claims. But if he has, then those who oppose him certainly have as well, and in the end, for me, it comes down to making a simple choice. Would we rather err on the side of caution, or not? Personally, I would rather be safe than sorry, and it both puzzles and saddens me that there are people out there so opposed to trying to live cleaner lives.

Marshall McLuhan once said that the medium is the message, and if you'll permit me to warp the term a bit for my own purposes, here, the opposite holds true. In terms of the filmmaking, An Inconvenient Truth is the epitome of basic. Guggenheim's directorial style is for the most part, "point and shoot." The lack of style is appropriate though, as it allows Gore's message to take center stage. Here, the medium means almost nothing, and although the film certainly has its faults, the central message is so compelling, so frightening, that it transforms a conceptually boring film, a glorified science lesson, into something powerful and vital.

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