Tuesday, May 6, 2014

World as Classroom: Al Gore Film Still Vital

By Jonathan Mallon

For my final CEC assignment, I saw the environmental documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”  A documentary film about a global warming presentation by former Vice President Al Gore within the first half of the 2000s, it became famous for its message and presenter, as well as spoofed in such media like “The Simpsons Movie.”

Ten years after “Truth” was released, there have been more studies about uncommon weather events in relation to global warming, as well as its effects beginning to happen now.  The film also came out in the middle of George W. Bush’s presidency, and some improvements and policies have been passed for the U.S to try and curb the emissions that cause global warming.  Despite this, most of the information presented in this film is still influential and paramount in the same way something like “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson was.

As stated before, most of the film shows a presentation Gore gave about global warming.  This included scientific data about temperature changes, political influences on the science, and its eventual effects on the earth.  In between, Gore accounts his experiences that brought him to awareness on climate change and nature, including his experiences on his family’s farm, his efforts as a Senator, as well as an accident that brought his son dangerously close to death.

All this culminates into documentary film that comes off as something personal, which adds a human touch to a documentary.  The facts aren’t presented by Gore as just educational, but as a plea for change, along with the experiences he describes outside of the presentation.  The experiences tell a story about Gore’s look at nature, while the presentation is almost like the accumulation of both his research and his overall knowledge.  It’s like Gore’s presentation is the character’s battle in a story, where Gore’s accounts is what lead him to that battle.

The story and presentation are fascinating, but the film ends with a message to take action.  Usually, I found this type of ending in other documentaries heavy handed, but it wasn’t overdone in “Truth.”  Gore barely over-staged his message, instead keeping a calm voice that almost said that the information spoke for itself.  Even the information provided at the end credits (with a song performed by Melissa Ethridge) was simple and not fear-inducing, instead giving ways to promote more sustainable and lower emissions-producing energies, such as calling energy businesses and government officials to promote the use of energy efficient technologies.

While the film’s information isn’t new, it is one of those seminal pieces of non-fiction that helps bring awareness to a serious issue like man-made global warming.  “An Inconvenient Truth” isn’t just about a presentation by a politician, but more about that politician’s reason for bringing awareness and promoting change.

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