Earnest doc proves Gore’s truth still inconvenient
YOU say you want a revolution? Well, you know: We all want to change the world. At 33, Rob Stewart may be too young to remember John Lennon’s lyrics, but he’s old enough to understand the importance of resisting the status quo, and in a beautiful gesture of youthful arrogance and earnestness, his new movie takes a wrecking ball to the current world order where bad things like greed, corporate globalization and plain deception are pushing the environment towards wholesale collapse.
After Al Gore’s Powerpoint presentation altered the world’s thinking on climate change close to a decade ago, this is hardly new ground.
Several truly outstanding works of non-fiction — including Chasing Ice and People of a Feather have taken Gore’s lead and brought the gospel of global recalibration to the masses.
Stewart was probably too busy touring with his first film, Sharkwater, to see these efforts, so by the time we realize Revolution is really just another fact-based digest of disconcerting facts about our melting planet, we may be feeling a little frustrated at Stewart’s near-Pollyanna perspective.
He says he was spurred into action by witnessing the shark slaughter at the hands of poachers and indiscriminate trawlers, but when he realized how intricately connected our world is to those of sharks, he saw a broader canvas and a bigger problem.
Shark extinction in our lifetime is a real possibility, as is a massive die-off of several beloved creatures, from the polar bear to the eider duck.
But thanks to our gigantic species ego and self-created feelings of invulnerability, we’ve never put ourselves on the planetary discard pile.
According to this movie, that will change, because once the planet starts an irreversible decline, it won’t be able to sustain life in the same numbers as before, essentially prompting a massive fight for survival among all life forms — including humans.
You can see the weight of this realization just by watching Stewart’s body language.
In Sharkwater, the young Canadian outdoorsman showed us his lovely body in tight neoprene, looking at home on the deck of a dive boat.
But in Revolution, Stewart is a fish out of proverbial water, taking his message to international forums and environmental conferences seeking an audience of empathetic souls.
With product in his hair and camera in hand, he dives headfirst into the whole climate-change scene.
Because Stewart has the squeakyclean persona of a kids’ show host, a lot of Revolution feels like curriculum for a middle school science class.
We get graphs and charts and all kinds of alarming statistics, which is good for middle school teachers and humanities enthusiasts, but just a little tedious for grown-ups who are already well versed on the issues.
Then again, Revolution isn’t looking to proselytize the calcified curmudgeons who made the mess we’re in today. This is a movie focused on changing the way the next generation approaches its relationship to the lifesupport system called Earth.
And on that score, Revolution does a pretty good job laying out the facts, the scope of debate and the legacy that awaits us all should we carry on down the same road of ignorance and denial.
Sure, the kids who are cranked up by Stewart’s message can’t vote yet, but they will, and listening to their surprisingly coherent, educated and altogether realistic views on the reality they will inherit should give any boomer or X-er a moment of pause because these kids see what’s coming, and they want to change it, but they keep hitting brick walls.
Perhaps the most poignant moment is when some kids are physically removed from a climate-change conference and taken away in a bus because they are making a commotion.
When I was a whippersnapper, the only things my peers were ready to put themselves in harm’s way for was a Cabbage Patch Kid, so to watch these vulnerable, delicate little people raise their arms in protest is quite moving.
Stewart’s film is far too vague, and too broad, to do much more than inspire a swell of feeling that may spur the viewer into personal action, but as a piece of well-researched propaganda, it forces viewers to take responsibility for our own part in creating an overtrodden planet.