Wiggly Socks Movie Reviews
Friday, June 12. 2009
By Linda Winsh-Bolard
Directed by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Written by Isabelle Delannoy and Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Narrated by Glenn Close. Three aerial cameramen worked on the footage: Michael Brennan , Richard Brooks Burton and Peter Thompson. Edited by Yen Le Van, produced by Luc Besson and Denis Carot.
This is beautifully shot film mapping the beginning of life on Earth, and its development. It ties together the importance of water, gasses, plant and animal life before and after the appearance of mankind.
Using the example of the now extinct Rapanue of Eastern Island who, having exhausted their natural environment, were subject to war, famine and finally extinction, the authors deliver stern warning:we too have overused our natural resources. We "progress" much faster than nature can renew itself literally destroying the planet; this destruction might also cause our end. Nothing is inexhaustible.
I take it for granted that the facts were checked; it certainly all sounds plausible. There is no one special cause, country or company singled for blame. We all add to destructive changes, we should all try to make things better.
The narration suffers from lack of specifics; problems are created and solutions needed. It stays, as does the photography, mostly far above daily realities, in the realm of high skies and politics- neither of which will watch this film.
The visuals are spectacular, particularly water bodies, rock formations and sweeping landscapes. Some are truly breathtaking and unique. For that alone it is worth to watch it. Few of us will ever have the opportunity to see Earth from such angles and wonder about the shapes and puzzles nature and man created on Earth surface.
But while it explains the importance of nature, and particularly water, oxygen and carbon dioxide, it steers away from controversies. That's a mistake. An effective warning needs human level, in both, photography and facts.
The filmmakers don’t bring up, brutally and honestly, the true cause of natural resources depletions: overpopulation.
It is of course true that capitalism promotes growth without any restraint thus causing overall exhaustion of resources, but capitalism would be checked, to some degree, by lack of markets were there lack of consumers. If there is no one to sell to, production halts. Albeit, we are overpopulated.
China is repeatedly demonized for instituting the, often broken, policy of one child per couple. Yet, it is very reasonable policy; if implemented overall, world hunger, disease and general poverty would diminish substantially. People in some of the poorest regions of the world often have as many as six or seven kids. Living children. There are miscarriages and dead infants as well. Frankly, no developed country could support such population either. Despite that, religious fanatics prohibit the use of birth control, punish abortions and forbid any population control. Plainly this is stupid.
The point is not that 20% of population uses 80% natural energy, or that we spend 12 times more on military than on aid – after all, substantial part of military spending is done by those countries asking for the aid- the point is that there are too many of us and we are multiplying at an alarming rate. Mostly in those countries asking for aid, and with help of those who use most of those natural resources to further medical and other technology to increase the rate of survival in the poorest parts of the world. We can sustain 3 billion people, we cannot 12 billion.
Today, one billion people have no access to safe drinking water-there simply is not enough water to go around- yet this is the one billion that will double fastest.
This is also the one billion that goes hungry, because they overfished their sees( literally bombing the ocean coasts to increase their catch) destroying coral reefs in the process, deforested their land to extract oil and practice damaging agriculture. It is impossible to explain to them that unlimited numbers of goats or sheep are harmful to their environment; meat is prestigious sign of wealth. Permanent destruction of arable land or water sources means only that they will move somewhere else. Not that different from oil companies.
Time and again uneducated people put their families before common good. If species have to die out, forests burn or water be polluted, while they get paid, they’ll work for the destruction and call it “providing for my family”. They have no compassion for animals or plants. Correlation between ice caps and higher temperature means nothing to them. Finite resources remain abstraction that does not affect them even as they are starving.
It is easy to point out developed nations as the engine of destruction but they are also the ones most willing to work on change. Military and religious fanaticism is checked by education. True, profit rules are making buying eco friendly products so costly that many simply cannot afford them; profit making fights restrictions on pollution and production, but the level of understanding is much higher than in underdeveloped countries which match the military and profit driven greed.
The film resonates with beautiful visuals and false sounding optimism that we all want, can and will do better. Frankly, I doubt it.
The Earth is limited in space and resources and we have to understand that and adapt. I don't see much of that happening.
To look for human solidarity as a solution is somewhat naïve when education is often a nice label covering racism, prejudice and fanaticism of all kind.
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Amos, I have been environmentally responsible for years before it became a fad.
Overpopulation, destruction of natural resources and overindulgence were never my thing.
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#1: Linda Winsh-Bolard on 2011-01-21 11:08
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