Mark Reviews Movies

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Davis Guggenheim

MPAA Rating: PG  (for mild thematic elements)

Running Time: 1:40

Release Date: 5/24/06


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Review by Mark Dujsik

There are two schools of critical analysis at war when considering An Inconvenient Truth, and it's something critics need to reconcile themselves with whenever a film about an important subject matter comes along.  An Inconvenient Truth's subject is no less than the future of the planet Earth, which, according to its frightening data, will see potentially catastrophic changes within the next 50 years if human beings continue their lifestyles of mass consumption and pollution.  People can argue all they want about the reality of global warming, but even if for some reason you disagree with the data, isn't it better to err on the side of caution when presented with something that could have apocalyptic repercussions?  All of that aside for a moment, though, the film is indeed a scary view of the future, and even though it may err on the side of fear-mongering as opposed to presenting prevention techniques, it is a vitally important lesson, told in bland charts and alarming images.  So, yes, it is important, but the issue is how much the film's importance outweighs its faults.  Make no mistake: this is a finely made film about a significant speech, but its sidebars about the speech's presenter seem a bit out of place.

The lecturer is former Vice President, or, as he jokingly calls himself, the guy who used to be the next President, Al Gore.  I never had a problem with the man during the 2000 election campaign and resulting democratic snafu, and honestly, I actually like him a bit better after the film.  That's a bit beside the point, though, although it is important to note that Gore—typically laughed at for his monotonous intonations—actually makes a good spokesperson for global warming.  He's straight to the point, is able to spout of his entire speech with nary a flub, and has a surprising sense of humor.  He has, he tells his audience, about three decades worth of experience with the issue, and his knowledge shows.  As he interprets a multitude of charts to show a bleak future for our planet, he's able to cut the jargon and get to the importance barebones.  His argument is a strong one: global warming is not a political issue but a moral one.  "The moral imperative to make big changes is inescapable," he says, laughing away economic concerns as missing the bigger picture.  He refers to an illustration done by the first Bush administration, showing a scale: on one end, a stack of gold; on the other, the entire planet.  If there's no planet to live on, money is superfluous.

People argue the threat is not real—a fabrication meant to aid the interests of…  Well, what interests are helped is a bit hazy, but it is clear certain economic interests will be hurt by radical changes in energy policy, adopted by those countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.  The U.S., of course, was not one of them.  Skepticism in the science industry, as seen from a random sampling of articles from science journals, is nonexistent, but in a similar sampling of articles from the popular press, over fifty percent of reports show doubts about the phenomenon's existence.  Liberal media, indeed.  Aside from the graphs, Gore's presentation uses photographic evidence to support the findings.  One comparison shows the snows of Kilimanjaro a few decades ago and this decade.  They are almost gone.  There is film of ice shelves in Antarctica falling into the ocean as they melt away.  One of those shelves melted in little over a month in 2002.  Greenland is melting through, and Gore argues the implications of the second largest body of ice melting into the ocean could be catastrophic.  There are reports of polar bears drowning trying to find ice, a hitherto unheard of occurrence, and shots of the chaos of Hurricane Katrina are tied in to the increased strength of hurricanes as they pass through warmer waters.

The warning and the information that backs it are strong enough on their own, so stories of Gore's political and family life seem unnecessary (it would be a shame if he's using this to increase his supposedly nonexistent political aspirations).  Similarly, most of the film is woe and doom, and only in the final moments and over the closing credits are we given any idea of how to avert a potential global tragedy.  But the conviction of the argument, how my generation and our children may not have what we take so for granted, is too strong to not make An Inconvenient Truth vital viewing.

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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