Saturday, June 03, 2006

an inconvenient truth

before showing melville's army of shadows with chris on thursday (which i enjoyed in spite of its stylized length), the theater ran a trailer for the al gore movie that compelled me to see it as soon as possible. it struck me that the charges of doom-mongering levied in the swift boating of al gore and this movie might, if the trailer was any evidence, be warranted on some level. but it struck me as more significant that, just immediately after the voice-over in the trailer has gore saying "this isn't a political issue, it's a moral issue," the image we see on the screen is a satellite tracking shot of katrina as it is about to pummel new orleans. here, i thought, was the opening salvo in the left's campaign to take back moral values.

in fact, the al gore projected by the film is hardly the fire-and-brimstone preacher. not at all. rather, he's a calm, thoughful, humorous, articulate and committed teacher.

goreone who was motivated by a college teacher of his own to develop a deep concern for this earth, to teach himself as much about it as he can, and communicate what he has learned in plain language without being wonkish or dumbing it down. if anything he comes off slightly nerdy, toting his laptop around when he's not gazing probingly into it, working the lecture hall before an ever-impressive array of graphics that look far slicker than anything i've seen powerpoint do -- even stepping up onto a mechanically-raiseable platform and motoring himself slowly up to meet the "off the charts" graphs of CO2 emissions for example. it's pure schtick, but it works in this wired world of nerd chic.

on some level the film is about the al gore global warming road show, as much about the presentation and the presenter as it is about what's being presented. there is a biographical thread to this narrative: gore the four-months-a-year farm boy for whom "work" in the fields was really just fun, the college student in the 1960s, the young politician, the brother who lost a sister to cancer, the father who nearly lost his son in a traffic accident (which i did not know about). the man who would be president.

one could almost read the film as a filmbio for a political campaign, but i believe him for the moment when he says he's not going to run. the fact of the matter is, gore puts on a good show and makes a great case. i'm of course no expert and so am interested to do some fact checking and see what the reviewers and swift boaters are saying about it. two items, tho, stood out to me:

1) how losing a major piece of antarctic and/or greenland ice could cause a significant enough rise in ocean levels to flood many major coastal cities worldwide -- cathy mused that maybe this is what the anti-envionmentalists and red staters really want, for the east and west coasts to be washed away in the flood -- the graphics here really did raise a lump in my throat.

2) how the notion that the science is inconclusive on the causes and effects of global warming is widely held but completely untrue, with 0% of 928 peer-reviewed scientific journals contesting this fact as opposed to some 53% of the articles in popular media outlets contesting over the same time period -- as with the intelligent designers who swift boat darwin simply by introducing an element of doubt.

one wonders too if, as with a michael moore film, this movie will only preach to the converted. i caught a pretty empty 4:45pm matinee but apparently the 9pm and 9:30pm shows were sold out here.

PS: i wish gore had talked more about peak oil, or at least made a more explicit connection since this cleary has to be part of a liberal moral values agenda

PPS: if the trailers shown at the two films i saw are any indication, this summer is serving up even more films coming out strongly critical of bush & co. they include:

the war tapes, essentially home video shot by a member of a national guard unit sent to iraq;
the road to guantanamo, a dramatization of the "tipton three," twentysomething britons picked up in afghanistan and who have claimed abuse at gitmo;
who killed the electric car?, which should prove interesting in light of our ongoing petropolitics disasters
giuliani time, which actually looks like a nasty little piece of mud-slinging

1 comment:

Mark Wallace said...

Every time the interviewer on the radio asked Gore if he was going to run, Gore said that he "hadn't issued a Sherman statement." Have you figured out what that is?