Review: An Inconvenient Truth

As I mentioned previously, I had the opportunity to see An Inconvenient Truth at the Sydney Film Festival. I never quite got around to writing my thoughts up, but I figured better late than never eh?

Let me first say that I thought the movie was excellent. It is a well edited, well shot movie that eloquently explains why global warming (or climate change, climate crisis, atmospheric cancer, whatever you want to call it) is such an important issue. As someone who works for an environmental NGO, there wasn’t a whole lot that Al Gore says that I hadn’t already read or heard. But what impressed me most was the delivery of the message.

The visual support (namely, the presentation upon which the doco is based) was superb. The visuals not only re-inforced the message, they illustrated it so well even I found myself with my jaw dropping in places. It certainly makes me consider how we (as in "the movement") communicate visually – I think we can learn a lot from Gore’s presentation.

If I was to criticise the movie in any way, I would point to it’s American-centric view. It’s only a criticism in the sense that an international audience may be a little alienated by it, but the American public, for whom the documentary is obviously aimed, definitely needs to see this movie (America is the #1 greenhouse gas polluter in the world), and if that means taking an Amercian-centric view, so be it. So I can’t criticise this aspect too heavily.

Another minor criticism I would have is that the interstitial segments on Al Gore’s life, although I think work as a narrative device, do tend towards the "Al Gore, seen here looking out a window in deep thought" kinda vibe a bit too much. A little indulgent perhaps, but a minor criticism nonetheless.

Lastly, the actions that appear in the closing credits are cleverly presented, but fall into the "list of ten" category and really don’t mean much without explanation. There’s a little bit more on the movie’s website, but not much. It wouldn’t fit within the film to have more information, but I do wish they could have dropped the "Al Gore staring out the window" shots and put a bit more effort into describing the solutions at the end of the film.

My first thoughts upon leaving the cinema was "I really hope that lots of people get to see this" – more than the left-leaning inner-westies and usual suspects. I’m trying to work out how to get my family to go along – I think I might just have to buy them tickets.

I did notice that Hoyts George Street (the main cinema strip in the Sydney CBD for those that don’t know) is going to be showing it, which is a good sign. I kinda expected that this would be a Dendy only release initially, so it’s good to see it jump that first hurdle into the mainstream cinema’s early. Whether that means that it will receive a wide general release remains to be seen.

I asked Ang, who is aware of the threat of global warming, but not so close to the reports, facts and data that I am, did find some new information in the film, which is great. I will be thoroughly recommending the film to my friends and family when it reaches broader theatrical release mid September.

WWF-Australia (my day job for those that don’t know) will be actively promoting the film, as I’m sure many other environmental NGOs will. It’s an important story, well told. And I’d like to think that the Prime Minister Howard would have a tough time attacking the credibility of this particular global warming advocate. I do hope that Gore manages to meet with Howard when he is out here promoting the film.

Two last quick things to add – this film (along with Syriana, another Participant Productions film) is "climate neutral". That means that an estimate of all the carbon dioxide emitted during the production and promotion of the film has been "offset" through investments in renewable technology and other methods of reducing CO2 in our atmosphere. Participant Productions also run a group blog that is a very interesting way to "continue the debates" around their films. An interesting use of social media to promote their films and engage with their audience. Bravo, I say…

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