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Thread: An Inconvenient Truth

  1. #1
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    An Inconvenient Truth

    AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
    Directed by Davis Guggenheim


    The crowd is hushed in anxious anticipation as the man they wait for makes his way through the maze of the backstage corridors. The fervor builds as the man stops to shake another’s hand, pose for a photograph. We can only see him from behind. We can barely make out who it is. Until, the wait comes to its end. Ladies and gentlemen, the man you’ve all been waiting for, The self-described man who used to be the next president of the United States, Al Gore! And, the crowd explodes in a respectfully enthusiastic show of admiration and reasonable applause.

    In AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, former Vice-President of the United States, Al Gore, plays host to a lecture series audience on the impending impact global warming will have on our planet in his and your potential life time. Although it may sound odd in passing, Gore’s lecture series has been given around the globe, hundreds of times. In the time since he lost the bid for presidency, he has rededicated his life and passion to the subject of global warming and made it his priority to increase the awareness of its importance to people everywhere. Contrary to what one might expect from a lecture given by Gore, for example a long snooze, this particular series is actually thoroughly engaging. Of course, the subject matter itself is compelling enough as Gore walks us through image after time-lapsed image demonstrating a shockingly sparse amount of ice where once there was plenty and numerous graphs, be them bar or line, showing significant hikes in temperature and carbon dioxide emissions in the earth’s atmosphere from recent years. No matter the topic, one needs a compelling host to make sure the message hits where it should. The shock of the advanced progression of global warming may end up taking a back seat to the complete personality readjustment of Al Gore as he is charming, witty, sarcastic without being obnoxious and ultimately very comfortable, both with the material and himself. One can’t help but wonder why he didn’t demonstrate this side of himself when running for the presidency in the first place.

    One also can’t help but wonder that because filmmaker Davis Guggenheim breaks up Gore’s seminar with allusion to Gore’s past from his upbringing to the election debacle in the state of Florida in 2000. The goal is to demonstrate how Gore came to be crusading for global warming awareness. Drawing a link between the death of his sister from lung cancer due to years and years of excessive cigarette smoking despite the knowledge of it’s likely tragic outcome and the general population’s ignorance towards the effects of global warming and our need for tragedy to inspire action is one thing. Drawing a link between a near-fatal car accident his son had when he was very young and Gore’s conviction towards the importance of human life makes sense but detracts from the focus of the film. Gore’s motivation or interest in the subject seems almost entirely irrelevant as the film is about the presentation, not the guy giving it. Not only does this filler detract but it also taints. Bringing up America’s decision to ultimately vote George W. Bush into office seems somewhat damning, as if to suggest that global warming is not getting any better because of you America. You voted for someone who doesn’t care about the environment and therefore disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which the film says was much worse due to the warming of the ocean water it traveled over between Florida and New Orleans, might not have been as bad had you voted in a president that cared about the planet. I’m sure Guggenheim isn’t trying to make such strong accusations but the implication is still made through his editing and the film falls off track occasionally as a result.

    AN INCONVENEINT TRUTH is being dubbed the “Must-See” documentary of the summer, picking up where past hits THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS and FARENHEIT 9/11 have left off. I have a difficult time agreeing with this praise. I do believe it to be must-see but this is because the content is important and the facts need to heard. And albeit an enjoyable experience, the content cannot be all that is judged as it is still a film and it is one that is flawed.
    I have no idea what I'm doing but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.
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    Originally posted by mouton
    Gore’s motivation or interest in the subject seems almost entirely irrelevant as the film is about the presentation, not the guy giving it. Not only does this filler detract but it also taints. Bringing up America’s decision to ultimately vote George W. Bush into office seems somewhat damning, as if to suggest that global warming is not getting any better because of you America.

    Apparently then An Inconvenient Truth is about the message and the messenger, hints at the differences in environmental policy and its application between the major parties (why do you think few environmentalists are Republicans?), and points out how America contributes to global environmental problems. I fail to understand how any of this makes the film "flawed".

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    Given Gore's passion for getting the message out there, I can't imagine he would want the film to come out as being about both the message and the messenger. Unless he's planning to run for office again. I felt the film flawed because the message should have been enough to build the film upon without it also a being a publicity vehicle for Al Gore. Again, I'm not stating I believe Gore is using this as that; I believe he is well intentioned and determined. Merely that I believe the filmmaker was reaching for content at times when global warming is plenty of a topic in itself.
    I have no idea what I'm doing but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.
    - Woody Allen

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    The way Gore explained it on the Tonight Show and Charlie Rose, is that he agreed to have the film made about his lectures for two reasons: One, to increase public awareness. Second, to donate the proceeds from the film to the organization promoting awareness. Judging on the reaction so far, I'd say he eloquently accomplished those goals. Now, if only someone will listen...
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

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    Hi! I'm Chelsea, Oscar's daughter (for those of you who don't know or forgot)! I'm back! *Laughs*

    Saturday, my boyfriend Joseph (16 yrs.) and I (15 yrs.) went to watch An Inconvenient Truth. We thought it nothing. We're just two kids going to watch "the environmentalist movie with Al Gore". We were about to find that our presence was appreciated more than we thought.

    "Two for An Inconvenient Truth.", he said to the woman at the ticket booth. She let out a long, loud gasp, as if this were the most amazing thing she'd ever seen. "Wow! It's a great movie! I'm so glad you guys are watching it!" she exclaimed. We were taking our student I.D.s out of our pockets (so we could get the discount), but we were interrupted by the woman. "I already charged you as students with a discount. No need for identification." she said. We were surprised. This movie theater would never let you get away with a discount if you didn't show your student identification card. Instead of the normal student price ($8) she gave us an added discount, so we paid $6 per ticket. After we paid she slipped us some buttons that read "I saw the TRUTH." and some bookmarks. Joseph, obviously taken back by our good fortune, replied, "Wow! Thanks!"

    "No problem. We need more young people to watch this movie!" ,she said to us, "You guys have a grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat day!" As we walked away it struck us: not many "young people" are going to watch this movie are they? Not many "young people" are going to care huh? These thoughts gave me even more reason to cry as I watched what would happen to the planet if we didn't give up some of our creature comforts and start caring about our CO2 emissions.

    I felt the film was extremely informative. I was very impressed with the presentation. For example, the way Gore related the problems we're facing with the environment to real-world situtations such as, almost losing his little boy. It made it all feel very personal. It screamed "THIS IS HAPPENING TO YOU!". I, for one, was scared senseless; and I feel that's a good thing. We need a bit of a scare to be able to react, and we do need to react.

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    Welcome back, Chelsea! I was begging your dad to coax you onto the boards of Filmleaf again, and here you are. Haven't seen this movie yet, but soon will.

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    Bringing up America’s decision to ultimately vote George W. Bush into office seems somewhat damning, as if to suggest that global warming is not getting any better because of you America. You voted for someone who doesn’t care about the environment and therefore disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which the film says was much worse due to the warming of the ocean water it traveled over between Florida and New Orleans, might not have been as bad had you voted in a president that cared about the planet. I’m sure Guggenheim isn’t trying to make such strong accusations but the implication is still made through his editing and the film falls off track occasionally as a result.
    No doubt about the fact that Gore's strong presence is a problematic aspect of the film, but you are overinterpreting the facts he gives, which we know, about Gore. He is not implying that it's our fault because we didn't vote for Bush and America didn't choose Bush, the Supreme court and the election authorities of Florida did. There is no "America's decision to ultimately vote George W. Bush into office." I and all of us who did not support Bush but voted in a majority for Gore never made such a decision. It was not "America's decision." But it is true, one would hope, that Katrina might have been handled better if Gore had become president. I will give my review below.

    Gore's role is problematic, but not enough to detract from the importance of the message. That is what we need to focus on. In fact I believe Gore is right to be totally himself. A good advocate shows his commitment by revealing its genesis, such as his son's near-death. And a good speaker gives emotional weight to his advocacy by making his involvement personal.

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    Davis Guggenheim: An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

    This man has something to tell us

    Review by Chris Knipp

    Calling Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth “just a film of a slide lecture” is the ultimate reductivism. Al Gore’s lecture around which the documentary is built is an impressive performance, but also the result of a lifetime of passionate commitment to the environment.

    We’re conditioned not to realize that Al Qaeda’s worst attack is like a mosquito bite compared to what Mother Nature can do when aroused. As Gore offhandedly puts it, 9/11 was a terrible event, but maybe we ought to worry about other threats besides terrorism. There’s a scientific consensus that climate change is currently dramatic, and that the major element in it is human and therefore reversible. It’s also obvious that the US is the major contributor to global pollution, but is unable to deal with climate-caused disasters when they come, as the material and human damage done in the Gulf region last year by Hurricane Katrina vividly illustrates.

    In Guggenheim’s documentary, Gore summarizes most of the major evidence of the warming phenomenon, with emphasis on melting ice and variations in carbon dioxide and temperature levels over the whole detectable range of geologic time. He explains what these changes are causing and predicts further future consequences –- draught, floods, deaths, homelessness, species extinctions and increased disease, destruction of cities and loss of arable land (the world population has tripled in Gore’s lifetime, one of the main contributing causes to this problem). Most dire and dramatic of the possible human outcomes: flooding of urban centers and settled lands resulting in displacement of as many as 100 million people.

    Gore says ‘this is a moral issue, not a political issue.” Since it’s become clear that the current US administration favors bad science and fundamentalist Christianity over up to date fact, and global warming is nothing if it is not an up to date fact, let’s say it’s a scientific and a political issue that overrides politics with its moral imperatives. To do nothing now is to doom future generations to horrible consequences, even extinction.

    According to Gore, it's a major misconception that there's serious disagreement among scientists about climate change and the human role in it, a myth perpetrated by popular journalism. He cites a check of over 900 scientific articles related to global warming that found 0 that questioned its existence; and another check of 500-odd popular articles that showed 53% presenting it as uncertain. (The truth is that some scientists disagree, but they are in a small minority.) Another claim Gore deals with is that the US auto industry is holding its place by having bad emission standards. Given that GM and Chrysler are failing, this argument appears specious.

    We’re like the frog in water slowly heated up to boiling that doesn’t know to jump out, Gore says. Though the climate changes in fact are extremely rapid, they aren’t perceived as such, but Gore hopes we will still be jolted, as his father was jolted to stop raising tobacco when his older sister died of lung cancer.

    As a Congressman, Gore tells us he thought his fellow politicians would see the urgency of ecological destruction. But they didn’t. They tend to set aside any matter that isn’t prominent in the minds of their constituents. Al Gore quotes Upton Sinclair: "It is hard to get a man to understand something, if his living depends on him not understanding it." Apropos of this, Gore gives the notable example of the Bush environmental official who altered scientific statements, then, forced to resign, went to work for Exxon Mobil the next day. It’s interesting to contrast Gore’s obvious clarity about science with those other leaders who favor bad science that they don’t understand. A Gore administration would have been very different, one hopes, and his joking introduction, "You know me: I used to be the next president of the United States" is a sad reminder of that.

    The film opens and closes with a beautiful country scene in summer by a riverbank with everything quiet, verdant and blooming. It ends with the wish that our grandchildren don’t have to look back and wish we’d done something.

    Despite this film’s accomplished quality -- its sharpness and conviction, its smooth flow -- it has some obvious drawbacks. One of these is its focus on Gore’s own personal history, and even the fact that Gore himself is unabashedly at the center of it. His unifying presence, and his forthright identity, make everything a political as well as scientific and moral issue. The film might even be seen, and in some circles is being seen, as a push to get him re-nominated by the democrats for President. But as has been pointed out, the dems lock-step voted against Kyoto ratification. In fact Gore comes though as calm, passionate, rational, and smart; he’s not the people-pleaser that Clinton is but may have more real warmth. Gore has become more outspoken, strong, free, his own man since his “defeat.” And that shows in his appealing speaking here. But still unfortunately Gore’s reputation as numbingly boring, though belied by this film, may put off some people from watching it. Those who ignore that reputation will be surprised at the wit, humor, and personal honesty of the man -- and at his hope.

    Gore believes that there is hope, but in this film there is more about the basic phenomenon and less about what we can do about it -- which is almost presented as an afterthought, since such suggestions for individual action are peppered through the closing credits rather than contained in the body of the future. There could be more about popular campaigns to change policy as well as about the policies of other nations' governments. Overall there is more emphasis on the problem than on the response.

    And there is the same danger most committed documentaries have: of preaching to the converted, and alienating conservatives and non-believers in the facts the more because it’s the last democratic nominee for president presenting them. And yet for Gore to pretend political non-affiliation would be un-candid. It’s essential to his commitment that he should be all he is in his presentation.

    This is a powerful film, whatever its faults. And that not all will be swayed by it doesn’t make it unimportant but underlines the need for it.

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    Hi Chris ... good review. I particularly enjoyed your criticism of what we can do about global warming coming across as an after thought. Before Gore even began to mention that there were things we could all do to effectuate change, I sat in the theatre and wondered if he would. That is probably because I an the converted, or at least among them.

    I apologize for my remarks about America's decision which, as you've corrected, was not in fact theirs. I will plead Canadian ignorance here ... which is somewhat refreshing to say as I often just feel Canada is an extension of the US so it's good to affirm we are not. I have a tnedency to see the 2000 Bush win more broadly as a win and nothing more, rather than remembering the intricacies of that win. I still feel the film has an accusatory tone that is not as pointed as it could be, leaving itself up to (mis)interpretation.
    I have no idea what I'm doing but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.
    - Woody Allen

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    I guess if you're from Canada -- which I was overlooking -- the "intricacies" of the 2000 elections wouldn't be as painful or obvious to you. The fix was in on many levels. It wasn't a clean job. Gore should have won. And this time, that sure has made a difference. Nobody can say the democrats are just like the Bush administration. Whether they'd have supported Gore's environmentalist policies if he had won however, is uncertain. But Gore wouldn't have been in the pocket of the oil industry, and favored bad science or fundamentalist Christianity down the line, that's for sure. I understand what you mean about the film not making the point clearly enough, but it's speaking chiefly to a US audience I guess, at that point anyway, and we know, so he's just being a gentleman and a good sport about things by not pointing an accusatory finger -- not saying I wuz robbed, as he well might, but merely referring to what happened and commenting, "that was very hard for me."

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    We Wuzzed Robbed is the title of a Spike Lee short about the election. I loved An Inconvenient Truth and more than ever I feel extremely guilty about being a Floridian who voted for Nader (I felt the Democrats had abandoned/neglected us liberals). There were almost 100,000 of us. If 500 of us had voted for Gore, the world would be a better place today. I'm convinced of that.

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    They told you not to vote for Nader. It was a bad year to do so. But you meant well. Anyway 100,000 wasn't enough to turn the tide for Gore. What you need is to buy the Diebold Co. I didn't know about that Spike Lee election movie, have you seen it? Where was it shown?

    I know that the election aftermath was thoroughly covered in another political documentary about the administration, but I can't remember which one. Can you?

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    That's an easy one. It is Fahrenheit 9/11.
    Spike Lee's short is included in the portmanteau film called 10 Minutes Older: The Trumpet. There are segments by Lee, Jarmusch, Kaige, Herzog, Wenders, Kaurismaki, and (my favorite) by Victor Erice.
    Gore would have won Florida if he had gotten roughly 500 extra votes from clowns like me. If he had won Florida, he would have been President of the USA.

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    Wow, just 500?! I had forgotten.

    I guess Fahrenheit 9/11 is so much a part of me I don't even think of it. I am not ocnscious of being familiar with that collection of which Spike Lee's We Wuz Robbed is a part, but my using that phrase suggests that subconsciously, I was aware of it. Thanks.


    How does climate change strike you as a person who lives in a very warm part of the country to begin with?

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    Your comment saying the film is about the message "and the messenger" and that that doesn't make it "flawed" is astute and I wish I had paid more attention to it and perhaps cribbed from it. That is a point aI haven't seen made very much as you make it. I wish you'd developed it further. But it's all here, somewhere. That's the nature of threads.

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