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Charles Shaw Movie Review: "An Inconvenient Truth"

“Don’t Shoot the Messenger!”
A review of An Inconvenient Truth

By Charles Shaw - Wed, 07 Jun 2006 13:57:04 -0700
From: (comment here)

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to maintain their delusions, or to serve their own agendas.

Despite there being literally unanimous consensus within the scientific community that Global Warming is indeed a real and perilous crisis on a scale we have never witnessed, a tiny gaggle of political ideologues and their corporate benefactors continue to try and convince us that Global Warming is “theory, rather than fact,” and is a result of “cyclical change” and not rapacious industrialization.

Apparently, I am not the only one who is befuddled by this particular brand of obtuseness. Al Gore has been talking about this issue in great detail for, oh, the last 25 years or so. In fact, it so bugged him that he proceeded to dedicate much of his life to raising awareness of this issue, culminating in the spectacular and earth-shattering (no pun intended) documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, a cinematic version of a traveling slide (not “side”) show Gore has given for years, produced by Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting) and eco-activist Laurie David, and directed by Davis Guggenheim (Ex. Prod – Training Day).

An Inconvenient Truth doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know—that is, if you are a regularly breathing member of the human race, not some cave-dwelling Luddite or cranial-rectal member of the Bush Administration or analogous wingnut—but it presents it in such a thoroughly connected, detailed, and well researched manner, that you walk away with a clear understanding of The Big Picture, without any shred of doubt, and, unfortunately, an almost insurmountable sense of anxiety over what should be done about it.

For most people concerned about Global Warming, particularly Gore supporters, this film is a literal tour de force, offering something eco-activists have been screaming about for decades which was desperately needed to educate the largely clueless and self-absorbed American public. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to like Gore to appreciate or learn from this film. The greatest testament to that statement is that the only media willing to debase this film are either owned by Rupert Murdoch, like the laughable New York Post, which claims the film suffers from “truth decay,” (easily and readily discarded as tabloidism and partisan buffoonery), or those who take great lengths to lobby ad hominem attacks at Gore, instead of the science, such as the palaver published by Phil Hall the ultra-right wing reviewer from Film Threat Magazine, who called the film “a 96-minute commercial on the deification of Al Gore.” [NOTE: Hall used to write for me at Newtopia, where he has the unique distinction of being the only person I fired twice.]

It is not, nor does it set up Gore as the only potential savior of mankind. In fact, at the end of the film, laid over the credits are famous quotes, simple steps to becoming more sustainable and reducing your ecological footprint, and websites you can visit to get involved, none of them being

But yes, this film is indeed about Gore’s personal journey within this milieu, which is offered as the backdrop and subplot to the film’s central scientific message. It charts his long history trying to publicize and legislate against Global Warming, but it also tells the story of the four formative events in his life which brought him to the place he is now: the relationship he had with his mentor, Harvard Professor and Global Warming pioneer Roger Ravelle; the death of his older sister, Nancy, from lung cancer, in which Gore offers a heartfelt mea culpa about the role tobacco the Gore family used to cultivate played in her death, and then takes it further, drawing an analogue to Global Warming by showing how the PR tactics adopted by Big Tobacco after the 1964 Surgeon General’s cancer report were later transmogrified for use in the global warming debate, in which tobacco companies put out ads claiming, among others, that “more doctors smoke Winstons!”; the near-death of his six-year old son, Albert, in 1992; and, of course, the debacle that was the 2000 election and its beard-inducing aftershocks.

Each of these events led Gore to a new place which challenged what was then conventional wisdom—the lies of Big Tobacco, the legacy for one’s children, and the future stewardship of the world, which is completely antithetical to the precepts of industrial capitalism. Although critics like Joshua Frank have attempted to debase Gore’s efforts surrounding Global Warming, somehow heaping sole responsibility on his shoulders for saving the world, all the while neglecting to mention the obstructionist policies of the GOP–led Congress during the ‘90s and the megalithic power of the Corporate establishment, the truth is that the much-maligned CFC, smog, carbon emission, and pollution compromises put in place by two successive Clinton administrations did put a serious dent in our footprint and led to the repairing of the hole in the ozone layer…or so they tell us.

People speculating on whether or not this film is a launch platform for a potential redux on the Presidential stage are missing the point: the planet is fooked, and if we don’t act now, nothing else will matter. After viewing the film I went home and sent notice to all my various mailing lists, some 20,000 people, wherein I stated, “Normally, I am never at a loss for words or excess verbiage. Today you witness an historical occasion whence I am. Do whatever it takes…find two hours in your week…grab your family, friends, and loved ones…colleagues…and even those you may despise…and go see this film. Then, after you have seen it, tell everyone you know to go see it. It will change your world forever. I guarantee.”

I stand by that sentiment. But, don’t take my word for it. If you really want to feel the pulse of the culture, simply look at a recent article in The Onion titled “Critics Blast Al Gore’s Documentary As ‘Realistic’ ” which leads, “The Al Gore-produced global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth is being panned by critics nationwide who claim the 90-plus minute environmental film is ‘too disturbingly realistic and well-researched to enjoy.’”

Don’t waste time debating this review below. Go see the film, then come back and say whatever you need to say…if you actually have anything to say after seeing it.


Charles Shaw is a regular contributor to Scoop, GNN, Alternet, In These Times, Grist, and The Next American City.

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