Thursday, July 20, 2006

MOVIES: 'An Inconvenient Truth'

Oh Al Gore, I miss you. Watching "An Inconvenient Truth" the other day, I have to admit I felt a little sadness – in an alternate world, this guy'd be our president right now, instead of Dubya. Sigh. But so it goes.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIn his new documentary on the perils of global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore has a message everyone on the planet should hear – Democrat, Republican, non-voter, American, foreigner, whatever you are. The human, funny warm Al Gore, the one so sadly missing during his presidential campaign, is your guide to a manmade horror story – that still has an optimistic perspective.

Quite simply, “An Inconvenient Truth” is the most important movie I’ve seen this year. Which makes it more the pity that there were only a dozen or so people at the show I attended, while a few doors down the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie fills out to the aisles.

I know most folks view movies as a chance to escape from it all, but that’s not all they can or should be. “An Inconvenient Truth” is a movie that wants to wake you up, break you out of your apathy and the “if I don’t see it, it’s not happening mentality.” And it’s all done in an entertaining, relaxed fashion.

Check out “Pirates” and the like and have fun, of course, but if you’re at all concerned about the world you live in, and that your kids and grandkids will inherit, you owe it to yourself to see “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingEssentially, “An Inconvenient Truth” is a filmed version of a lecture on global warming Gore has delivered hundreds of times around the world. It looks at the causes of warming, presents dozens of hard facts showing the problem is very real indeed, and then offers some hope of solution. Gore has a simple eloquence on screen, and presents himself far better here than he ever did during a political campaign. He’s a smart guy, but rarely overbearing, and there’s more than a little quiet thoughtful grace and poetry to some of his statements.

Director David Guggenheim nicely juxtaposes excerpts from Gore’s lectures with off-the-cuff interviews with the man around his Carthage, Tenn., home. Gore touches on the motivations behind his crusade – family crises, political losses – and shows how he decided it was time to use his time to make a difference.
Gore himself says he considers global warming to be a moral issue, rather than a political one. But some folks have politics so ingrained in their blood that anything heard from someone of “the other party” is going to close their ears.

Yet as Gore points out repeatedly, there’s no reason it has to be a choice between the economy or environment – both can co-exist, and as global warming persists, the economy will be harmed no matter what.

Occasionally, “An Inconvenient Truth” does bog down a bit in hard science. It’s difficult not to make the movie feel a bit like the college lecture it basically is. But generally Gore dumbs down the technical talk enough to make it palatable for everyone.

A dramatic series of events showing what could happen to the coastlines of some of the world’s major cities if sea levels rise is the best use of terrifying special effects I’ve seen in a long time – because unlike much of what we see in Hollywood, this has a decent chance of happening if something isn’t done.

“You can’t make somebody understand something if their salary depends upon them not understanding it,” Gore says at one point, quoting Upton Sinclair. It’s as good an answer as any to the obstinate refusal to note the obvious in some corners of Washington.

“An Inconvenient Truth” makes for a pretty convincing argument that there’s something really bad going on in our world today. It’s a question of whether the political will can be found to make a difference about it before it’s too late.

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