Saturday, September 16, 2006

Whenever I read a critics review of a movie that tells me that it is actually my "responsibility" to watch it, I end up feeling fairly resistant.

An Inconvenient Truth is a movie currently receiving such an accolade, but this time it didn't put me off because for quite a long time now I've had a secret crush on Al Gore.

Having now seen the movie, last night, I can reliably inform you that it is indeed everyone's responsibility to see it.

The movie is actually a combination of a keynotes speech where Gore addresses a lecture hall full of people using graphs, photographs and representations to demonstrate the key points about global warming and climate care - all to great effect. To break up these scenes and, I suppose, to lend a greater cinematic impression, the filmmakers have dropped in archive footage of Gore as a child, as a young man, at home, at work, as a younger and then elder statesman. There are also clips of him campaigning for his presidency and then clips of him losing. Gore narrates, or rather muses, over the top of these clips, but in a way that cleverly brings what we are seeing into context. For example, the scenes of his family consoling him after he loses out to Dubya, are there not to make us feel sorry for him, but to explain to us why he is here talking to us. Well, sort of.

I left the movie thinking two things:

The first was about the effect of global warming. Even at the one of the least dramatic levels, which in the movie is cited as being the partial melting of Antartica and / or Greenland, the sea level could rise about 20 feet (and if we carry on polluting the atmosphere they way we currently are, then this is almost certainly going to happen in my lifetime.) The repercussions would be gargantuan, resulting in the deaths of millions of people, not to mention the displacement of hundreds of millions of others. Put into context it makes other "important" issues such as the War on Terror and immigration seem like trifling irrelevancies (which they arguably are, anyway.)

The second is why-oh-why did Al lose out to George? What went wrong? Visually, the contrast between Al's handsome older-man "thang" and Dubya's gurning mug is really quite striking. George Bush Jr. almost always looks like a simpleton. Although I have no doubt that this was the intention of the filmmakers, as they trudged through the archives: to find the least attractive representations of him.

But what really comes out of the Gore / Bush comparison is that Gore clearly understands the war that he's campaigning for, what the positive effects will be if we win it and what will happen if we don't. This is in stark comparison to Bush, who probably understands very little, if anything.

I'm not entirely sure if An Inconvenient Truth was intended not only to be a call to arms, but also a presidential manifesto for a future Gore administration. It probably was. And while I don't pretend to be an aficionado on the intricacies of American politics, I do know that many people in 2008 will vote on a single issue.

Therefore whoever ends up running for office, I'm now convinced that the individual who is committed to the war against global warming, above anything else, is the one who should get the most votes.

After all, every issue - the War on Terror, the economy, human-rights, immigration, education, health - each of them pales into insignificance when you really look at and think about this ...

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