Review: An Inconvenient Truth

Mr. Gore has a point. Carol and I have been putting off going to see An Inconvenient Truth for the last few weeks out of concern over boredom, propaganda, and general bad moviemaking. The reviews of this movie by others (which many of you may know I don't usually read) have been all over the map. Although I may find fault with some of the presentation of the data, many of Mr. Gore's suggestions of what should be done are hard to complain about.

The movie itself, from an entertainment perspective, is not the plodding, dry film it's made out to be by many. It includes vignettes that explain some of Mr. Gore's background on the issue and why he's so fired up about it, and although they are not energetic, they do add some personality and life to the film beyond just the interest of the climate issue. All told, I never felt the need to get up an "stretch my legs."

The presentation (done in Apple's Keynote) is nice to look on the huge screen in the main presentation theater. Many of the graphics (especially the nature footage and space photos) are compelling and generate the desired feeling of wonder and connection to the planet.

By the end of the film, Mr. Gore lays out a series of suggestions that he believes will help reduce emissions to a level that would have a positive effect on global warming. It's not certain that he is correct and he doesn't call out for scientific corroboration on these points, but the basic ideas about using more fuel efficient cars and power stations, about recycling and using public transportation are all ideas that would have benefits on multiple levels (in some cases even saving consumers money). He also makes a point of reminding people that the planet-wide crisis are not always irreversible (although this is contrary to some of the indications by existing Global Warming advocates) by bringing up the CFC ban and the success we have had in reducing ozone depletion.

In the end of the film, he delivers a phrase that will have a life beyond this movie: "political will is a renewable resource," one of the best calls to action I've heard in years. It is tailored to the audience and provides little excuse for complacency.

Of the propaganda nature (or docu-ganda, as the folks from the Christian Science Monitor referred to it) of this film, there is little doubt. There are places where the statistics are cherry=picked, where the rhetoric is intended to incite, and where strong visuals are used to evoke an emotional response. It is a call to action and had it not been for the overly-pretentious title, I would say it made no pretense of being balanced. Unlike Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, the film doesn't run off the rails looking for scapegoats and conjuring up grand conspiracies. It provides scientific and anecdotal evidence of a potential problem and some accessible ways to approach resolving it.

Importantly, the call to action is not extreme, the blame is mostly spread around and there is a feeling that something can actually be done about the problem. Even if you don't believe in global warming or you think that it's a natural process, or you think that it cannot be stopped, many of the suggestions put forth in the film make sense from other standpoints (pollution, waste, financial, etc.) It's still unclear that the changes called for can or will cause a change to the future of the planet, but it is nonetheless a place to start.